Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and it can be heartbreaking to see your dog go through that as an owner. While it's impractical to stay home with your dog 24/7/365 when you have to go to work or tend to other responsibilities, there are ways that you can help your dog feel calmer when it comes a time that you have to be apart.
Determine the Possible Cause:
There are a variety of reasons why your dog might be having separation anxiety. Some of those reasons include:
- a past traumatic event
- major changes in their daily routine
- (constant) loud noises (construction, fireworks, living on a street with heavy traffic, etc.)
- frequent traffic or visitors that come into the home unexpectedly (i.e., if you own a small business)
- fear of abandonment
- past abuse (even from a different owner)
- moving from a shelter to a permanent home
These are some of the most common reasons why dogs experience separation anxiety. As an owner, it can be distressing to see your dog anxious and upset. The good news though, is that there are things that you can do to help.
Treatments for Anxious Dogs:
There are also a variety of treatments for separation anxiety for anxious dogs. Some of those various types of treatments can include the following:
- consider giving your dog a toy, puzzle, or treat when you have to leave the house until they are occupied and get their minds off of you leaving
- leave out recently worn clothes that still have your scent
- make comings and goings low-key without a lot of greeting or drawing attention to your arrival or departure
- consider over-the-counter calming supplements
- ensure that your dog's needs are met (i.e., socialization, enough exercise, the bathroom is taken care of, the dog ate/drank enough, etc.) to help prevent them from acting out to get what they need
- gradually build up the amount of time you are out of the house from a few moments to entire work days
These tips can help your dog realize that when you are leaving things are still OK and that you will be coming back. He is not left, neglected, abused, or going to get punished when you leave. You will return and will continue to ensure that his/her needs get met.
Consider Obedience Classes:
Obedience schools can help your dog learn and understand your patterns, comings and goings, and the daily routine. Not only will the obedience classes help your dog settle into a routine, but they will also teach what behavior comes expected of them and what is inappropriate and will not get tolerated.
Consider Anti-Anxiety Medications:
If you've tried everything else and your dog won't calm down, then you might consider talking to your vet. Your vet might be able to give anti-anxiety medications that you can give your dog to help them feel calmer when you are away. That should be the last resort, but if nothing else helps, a low dose of prescription medication may end up being less harmful than all of the anxiety every time you have to leave.