Pandemic stay-at-home orders weren’t all bad…for our pets, that is. Depending on the nature of one’s job, many pet parents generally got to spend more time working from home with their pets nearby. But what happens when you must leave home for a 9-to-5 situation, and your dog is home alone? Are they suffering from Anxiety separation?
Dogs are known to be sneaky and are often up to no good when they believe no one is around to see them. However, some behaviors could signal a deeper concern with your dog’s well being. Separation anxiety is a common pet problem that leaves your dog feeling heightened distress when left alone.
Unwanted behaviors may include:
- Urinating and defecating in the house (when otherwise potty trained)
- Chewing, biting, and scratching at the door in an attempt to escape and find you
- Consistent barking, howling, or crying as soon as you leave the house
Although it can be difficult to decipher between improper training and separation anxiety, if you believe your dog is suffering, working to teach them that it is OK to be alone is the best solution. Here are a few tips to try:
- Show them that coming in and out of the house is no big deal.
Every time you leave the house or come back in, ignore your dog for the first few minutes or so while they calm down. This can be extremely difficult because pet parent guilt is the worst, but this is for their benefit (and yours). It underscores the normalcy of your coming and going.
- Create a security cue. Turning the radio on or a television can provide comforting sound for your dog while you are away, but it will also let them know you are getting ready to leave and they will begin to expect it.
- Give them treats! If your dog knows that they will get treats before you leave, they will start to see this time as something exciting and often will not even be bothered that you are no longer there.
- Do not punish bad behavior committed during your absence. In a dog’s world, even negative attention is still attention, the very thing they are craving when you leave. When you yell at your dog for bad behavior, it rarely teaches them what they did was wrong, it could reinforce the bad behavior.
Has your dog been to a pet care facility for socialization and/or overnight boarding? Your pet care facility experts can help. If you do suspect your dog has separation anxiety, it is always best to consult a professional for appropriate actions.