Separation anxiety in dogs is a heartbreaking and frustrating condition for pets and their people. Coming home to an anxious, panting dog amidst a pile of destroyed couch cushions wears on your relationship. In fact, separation anxiety is one of the leading behaviors that leads to pet surrender or rehoming. Unfortunately, your canine companion will be left to her own devices at some point in her life, even if you work from home or have a household of people with alternating schedules. Teach your pooch coping skills to keep her calm when she’s alone with these 10 tips:
- Diffuse calming pheromones. Adaptil products release “comforting messages”—the same messages mother dogs use to communicate with their puppies. These messages are called dog appeasing pheromones and provide a strong signal of security and support for dogs of all ages. Clinically proven to help dogs remain calm while alone, the Adaptil diffuser delivers results within seven days. Within 30 days, pet owners have noticed a 91% decrease in destruction to furniture and belongings, 75% less barking, and 65% less house soiling. Plug the diffuser into an outlet in your pet’s favorite room or fit the Adaptil collar to your dog’s neck for calming results.
- Try calming supplements. Natural supplements can help take the edge off your pet’s anxiety. More severe cases may require additional support, but supplements may help ease your dog’s mind, allowing her to relax when alone. Keep in mind that not all supplements are created equal. Ask us before starting a supplement in your pet’s separation anxiety treatment, as some ingredients can interact with medications, causing adverse effects.
- Swaddle your pet in a comforting wrap. Applying constant, gentle pressure helps relieve anxiety, similar to calming a person with autism or swaddling a newborn. The ThunderShirt follows the same concept, applying pressure to your pet’s body to calm her. With a success rate of higher than 80% and a money-back guarantee, give the ThunderShirt a try.
- Engage your dog’s mind. A bored pet finds her own entertainment, often getting into trouble. Keep her brain occupied with long-lasting treats, such as food puzzles, stuffed Kongs, and chew toys. Your dog may not even notice your absence when presented with a Kong stuffed full of frozen peanut butter.
- Tire out your pet. A tired dog is often less destructive than an energetic, bored dog. Take the time to go on long walks, play fetch, or enjoy off-leash runs to burn off extra energy.
- Teach calm behaviors. When at home, reward your pup for relaxed activities. Offer high value treats when your dog remains in a room without you, lays down by herself across the room, or sits before greeting you.
- Keep greetings and departures calm and relaxed. It’s natural to want to shower your beloved pet with affection when you return home and heavily reassure her of your return upon leaving, but these over-the-top interactions only heighten your pet’s anxiety. Instead, keep your greetings and departures low-key and relaxed. When leaving, toss your pet her favorite long-lasting treat and stroll out the door. Upon your return, ignore your pet until she’s calm, and consider training her to sit before she receives attention.
- Unlink departure cues. Dogs are smart. They learn about their environment continuously, even if you don’t believe you’re doing any training. For example, you pick up your dog’s leash and she immediately spins into action, eagerly anticipating a walk. The same sequence of events trigger separation anxiety in dogs, but it’s with putting on shoes, picking up your purse, and grabbing your keys. These departure cues signal your imminent absence to your intelligent dog. Destroy the link between these cues and leaving by sitting down to watch TV, fixing a snack, or reading a book after picking up your keys or shoes.
- Speak with your veterinary team about anti-anxiety medication. Chronic anxiety takes a toll on both you and your pet. Discuss pharmaceutical options to help calm your pet if her anxiety is unmanageable. Depending on the severity of your pet’s panic, we have short-term and long-term options available.
- Hire a dog walker or enroll your pup in doggy daycare. Even if you can’t always be with your furry friend, someone else can step in. Hire a dog walker to visit your pet several times throughout the day, or skip the hassle and enroll your pooch in doggy daycare. Hanging out surrounded by human and canine companions ensures your pet is never alone and is under the watchful eye of professional staff. For more questions about doggy daycare options at our sister location in Conroe, head over to their website.
Stressed about leaving your pet alone? We can help ease the anxiety—give us a call.