What You Can Do to Soothe Your Dog's Separation Anxiety
Although it’s not something anyone wants their pet to experience, there are many different things that can trigger separation anxiety in a dog. Research shows that one out of every five dogs in the United States suffers from some degree of separation anxiety. This problem is especially prevalent in older dogs. Some studies have found that as many as half of all senior dogs experience separation anxiety.
Signs of Canine Separation Anxiety
There are two main steps you can take to evaluate if your dog is suffering from this condition. The first is if you’ve recently changed your schedule in any way that results in you being away from the house more frequently or for longer periods of time. If anything with your schedule has changed, then you’ll want to move to the second step, which is looking for specific signs.
Common signs of separation anxiety in a dog include chewing furniture, house soiling, obsessive barking, ripping the stuffing out of pillows or whining for long periods of time. On their own, those actions may stem from a different issue. But if you have changed your schedule and you then notice any of these issues, there’s a very good chance that separation anxiety is the root cause.
Options for Dealing with Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety
If your dog chews your furniture or rips the stuffing out of a pillow, your first instinct may be to discipline your dog. While that reaction is completely normal, it’s not the course of action you want to follow. The reason is your dog isn’t going to understand why you’re mad or reacting with punishment. Instead, this type of reaction will confuse them and cause even more unease.
Since your dog isn’t going to associate punishment from you to what may have happened much earlier, a better approach is to focus on reducing the amount of time your dog is at home alone. While this may require help from your partner, a family member, friend or neighbor, finding a way to eliminate long stretches of time when no one is home with your dog can make a big difference. This type of solution can be as simple as a 10 minute walk in the middle of the day.
Another strategy to lessen the severity of separation anxiety in your dog is to not make you leaving the house an overly emotional experience. You can also help your dog by sticking to a consistent schedule. Doing things like filling the dog food bowl at the same time every day can give your dog a sense of comfort. Be sure you make it a priority for the schedule you establish to include as much exercise as possible for your dog.
There’s no simple way to solve separation anxiety for your dog. But by being aware of this issue and taking steps to help your dog, you can greatly improve the situation.