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6 Tips To Ease Separation Anxiety In Dogs

With the recent shift of many organizations adopting remote working and getting to spend more time at home, a report by ‘Times of India’ shows a rise in dog adoption in India.

However, many parents express concerns on returning to work with having to leave their dog alone at home or even worry while going out as their dog is alone.

One of the major concerns of pet owners is the Separation Anxiety in their dogs.

Do you worry about your dog barking, whining, digging, chewing around the corners of the table or doors, and exhibiting immense discomfort in your absence?

Often when a dog shows signs of various anxiety behaviours when the owner prepares to leave the house, it is not always an indicator that the dog is poorly trained. Instead, it could be a sign that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.

What is Separation Anxiety? 

Separation anxiety is developed when dogs are separated from their owners, or persons to whom they are close. Any traumatic circumstances or even a hereditary tendency could be the cause of the trigger in some dogs.

The symptoms of separation anxiety differ in each pet, however, here are some of the common behaviours found in dogs with separation anxiety.

  •     Attempting to escape the space from where they are housed.
  •    Nervous behaviours such as pacing, whining or trembling while the owner is away
  •    Destructive behaviours such as gnawing or digging.
  •     Excessive wailing or barking.
  •     Urinating or defecating in the house by accident.
  •     Drooling, salivation, or panting excessively.
  •     Inability to eat, play or engage in any activities.

How To Treat It

With consistent practice and attention, you can help your dog overcome separation anxiety and make them understand it’s not a big deal when you are away. This also helps you have a peaceful time without constantly worrying about your pet being alone at home. 

Here are 6 tips to help your dog ease separation anxiety.

1) Keep your greetings Lowkey:

Avoid long emotional greetings with your dog when leaving or returning. Say goodbye casually on departure, and on arrival, remain calm with your dog until its excitement subsides. This will help you communicate with the dog that it is not a big deal and that it is the daily routine. Exercise a word of routine action that affirms you will be back soon.

2) Exercise

Physical activities and mental stimulation help in lowering anxiety and stress in animals too. Take your dog for a walk or give them adequate exercise before you leave. Desensitization training for dogs can also be used to gradually eliminate anxiety or stress triggers.

3) Try To Follow a Schedule:

Although this might not be always feasible, initially try to stick to a schedule of departure and return. This will help them get a practice of alone time and remain calm. If you’re going away for a few days, ask a friend to look after your dog or leave them at a pet boarding centre rather than leaving them alone.

4) Start Slow:  

Initially practice with a shorter period away from your pet. Start with a few minutes and gradually increase the time to around 6-8 hours a day. You can also keep a separate space for your dog in the house and leave them alone there by training with positive reinforcement so that they learn to be in their own company. 

5) Offer Distractions and Keep them Stimulated

Before you start leaving your dog alone at home make sure you explore various games or food that keep your dog pleasantly distracted and engaged. Introduce positive crate games including treats, toys, puzzles, and slow sounds that help them stay calm and comfortable.

 6)Create larger Space

Create a safe and spacious area for your dog where they can move loosely rather than restricting them to a crate. Make sure there is enough ventilation, water, and food in the room and create a safe place to limit your dog’s tendency to be destructive.

As a pet parent, it could be upsetting to see your dog under stress. While trying to understand your dog’s behaviour and its reaction to various stimuli, stay committed and confident in the training. Punishing, screaming, or including any negative reinforcement will only worsen your dog’s mental distress. In case you are struggling to figure out any solution or still find your dog in deep stress, seek assistance from your vet or trainer. You can also hire a dog sitter or find a doggy daycare near you to take care of your dog while you’re away.