It happens every time you leave the house. Your dog begins to circle you, cries, whines, and barks. You try to reassure him with calm words, giving him a hug or a kiss before you say “goodbye” and shut the door behind you.
Yet, even as you walk away, you can hear your dog, upset that you have left.
Separation anxiety is a very real and a common problem with dogs, especially those who have experienced trauma or who have been rescued. Sometimes separation anxiety is the result of a change in the daily schedule, moving to a new home, or getting a new family, which is common with shelter dogs.
The good news is you can cope with separation anxiety and help make you leaving easier on your dog.
Tips for coping with a dog with separation anxiety
#1. Keep it casual when you leave.
If you make a big production out of leaving the house – giving your dog hugs and kisses – he’s going to know you’re leaving. And, that’s going to trigger his separation anxiety. Instead, be nonchalant when you leave.
#2. Keep your dog confined.
Find a safe place in your home – a small bedroom, for example – that your dog can remain in safely without doing damage if he becomes agitated.
Make sure you give your dog plenty to do, including offering toys, treats, and a comfortable place to nap.
#3. Leave behind your scent.
When your dog suffers from separation anxiety, he doesn’t want you to leave. Provide him with comfort by leaving an item – an old shirt, for example – that has your scent on it. It’s often an effective way to calm an anxious dog.
#4. Consult your vet.
Sometimes separation anxiety is so severe that there’s nothing more you can do. If you reach that point or just feel helpless on what to do next, consult your vet.
A vet can offer natural ideas as well as recommend medications that can help ease your dog’s anxiety.
#5. Hire a dog walker.
If you are gone all day every day and your dog is alone, he’s probably going a little stir crazy in addition to dealing with separation anxiety. A dog walker will come to your home – on the days and at the times you specify – and take your dog for a walk. Your dog will enjoy social interaction and exert excess energy, breaking up the day until you return home.
While separation anxiety is a common problem with dogs, it is possible for your dog to learn how to calmly and peacefully stay home alone. The key is to be persistent until you find what works best for your dog.
Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety. Let us know in the comments below.