This past year was heaven for most dogs, with their family members having to stay home every day! Now that the world is getting back to normal, dogs may develop separation anxiety. Also, being abandoned, surrendered to a shelter, or joining a new family can trigger the development of separation anxiety in dogs. Some signs of anxiety in dogs include: howling, barking and whining; digging and scratching at doors or windows; destructive chewing; and potty accidents in the house (even with otherwise house-trained dogs).
One of the best ways to resolve a dog’s separation anxiety is by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. For example, you could give your dog a special treat each time you leave (like a puzzle toy stuffed with peanut butter). Only give them this treat when you’re gone, and take it away when you get home.
Some other tips for helping ease anxiety:
- Make your comings and goings low-key without a lot of fanfare. Remember that saying goodbye is for you, not for your dog! So, if you must say goodbye, do it long before you leave. Then when you’re ready to go out the door, just go; don’t make it a big deal. When you come home, stay calm. If you can, ignore your pup for the first few minutes after you get home then calmly pet them.
- Exercise your dog before you leave. A tired dog is a happy dog!
- Play an audiobook or turn on the TV while you’re gone. Studies have shown that the sound of a human voice can have a calming effect and help reduce anxiety while you’re gone.
- Consider adding another dog to your family pack. That way, they can keep each other company while you’re gone.
- If all else fails, talk to your vet about medication or supplements to ease anxiety.