With more people working from home than ever, canine companions have been brought into our families in record numbers. However, as offices reopen across the country, more and more new dog owners are discovering that their new best friends don’t like to be left alone.
Separation anxiety affects many dogs, and it can involve destructive behaviors like chewing, destroying furniture, or tearing up floors. It also includes disruptive behavior like constant barking, whining, or howling. If your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety, check out these four strategies for helping your pup feel safer and cared for even when you’re not around to keep them company.
1. Hire a Professional Dog Walker
One of the best ways to keep an anxious dog from resorting to disruptive or destructive behavior while you’re gone is to make sure they have company to break up the day. Engaging the services of a professional animal care team such as Fancy Paws Dog Walkers will guarantee your furry friend gets the exercise they need to stay happy and fit.
Many dog walking companies offer services specifically tailored to you and your dog’s needs, including puppy play sessions and extra-long walks, so you can rest easy knowing your canine pal is getting the companionship they crave.
2. Try Interactive Toys and Puzzles
Several solutions to help assuage canine anxiety have been invented in interactive dog toys designed for long-term stimulation. An example might be a hollow toy filled with frozen peanut butter or a dog-friendly puzzle with treats hidden inside.
Interactive toys are designed to keep your pup engaged even when no one else is around to play. This is ideal for mental stimulation and even delays canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD).
Some experts assert that they are an effective method of addressing stress and separation anxiety in nervous dogs. Your pup will be so distracted by the enticing treats hidden inside their toy that they’ll forget to be worried about where you are and when you’re coming back.
3. Use Treats for Positive Reinforcement
You can use several training techniques to make separation more tolerable for your dog. One of these is to connect you leaving the house with something positive, like getting a tasty treat. Here’s a breakdown of what this training technique looks like in action:
- Give your pup one of their favorite treats, then walk out your front door or go into another room and shut the door.
- If your dog starts barking or whining, wait for them to stop.
- After several seconds of silence (no barking or whining), come back into the room where your dog is and give them a treat and lots of praise.
Repeat these steps until your dog understands that a closed door means yummy rewards, not something to be scared or bark about. Keep giving them a high-value treat every time you leave the house to keep the lesson fresh.
4. Ask Your Vet About Medication
More advanced measures may be needed to address separation anxiety for highly nervous dogs. If your dog’s anxiety seems to be causing poor health or dangerous situations, it might be time to ask your vet about medication to help your pup calm down.
According to the American Kennel Club, SSRIs and antidepressants can effectively treatdog anxiety. These medications are generally only prescribed for dogs who have developed severe anxiety disorders. Anecdotal evidence from dog owners also supports natural remedies, like CBD oil, though this requires more study to be verified.
Supporting Your Pup Through Anxious Times
Dealing with canine separation anxiety can be overwhelming. In addition to these strategies, you can always reach out to a professional trainer for help in understanding and addressing your canine companion’s behavior. If you’ve just noticed a problem, try using these four strategies to manage canine separation anxiety and help your pup feel comfortable and safe while alone.