For us dogs, our humans are our entire world. We love our playtime, walks, attention, and snuggles with them. So whenever my mom, Tonya, leaves me or my siblings at home alone, we kind of freak out in our own unique ways. For me, Rex, THE Original Hipster Hound, I get really scared that she is never coming back, so I drool excessively when I’m alone. This is a sign of separation anxiety, and many other dogs have it much worse than I do. Regardless of the length of time our humans are gone, us dogs can go into panic mode and engage in some really destructive behavior! While there are many signs of separation anxiety, there are also plenty of things our humans can do to help us feel more comfortable when they leave home.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
Dogs express their stress and fear in many ways, so if your dog shows one or two of these behaviors once in a while, you probably don’t need to worry about it. However, if he or she regularly exhibits multiple of the behaviors listed below, it is very likely that your dog has separation anxiety. While these behaviors commonly occur while you are away, dogs can start to show them as you prepare to leave:
- Whining, pacing, trembling
- Panting and drooling
- Peeing or pooping in the house
- Excessive barking or howling
- Chewing, scratching, digging, ripping, and other destructive behavior
- Escape attempts
- Not eating their food or treats
To have your dog properly diagnosed for separation anxiety, be sure to call your vet and make an appointment.
Managing Separation Anxiety
First, if your dog has severe separation anxiety to the point of physical harm to himself or your home, your vet may prescribe some anti-anxiety medication. However, if your furry buddy is only experiencing mild to moderate separation anxiety, there are several things parents can do to help remove the anxiety their dog feels from being alone.
It’s important to know that this will be a gradual process that starts with short periods of time of independent activities that grow into longer timeframes spent apart from your dog. At The Hipster Hound, we stress PATIENCE when trying these different strategies, but here are a few practices you can do to help your dog feel secure:
Calm Exits and Re-entrances
When leaving or re-entering your house, it is best to say a calm and simple goodbye and hello or even to ignore your dog altogether. Emotional greetings tell your dog that it is a big deal that you left, and he or she will likely be triggered into their separation anxiety behaviors.
Continuous Coming and Going
To help your dog learn that you are not abandoning them every time you leave the house, you can practice by leaving and returning over a very short period of time. We’re talking seconds to a couple minutes in the beginning. For some dogs, it might require small steps in which you pick up your keys, walk out the door, and literally walk right back in. For other dogs, you might be able to walk outside for a few minutes before re-entering your home. You should continue to increase the amount of time you leave as your dog gets more and more comfortable.
A Tired Dog Is a Happy Dog
It’s true what they say: A well-exercised dog means a happy and less anxious dog. Before you leave for a long period of time, make sure your dog gets some type of exercise like a walk, run, or round of catch with his or her favorite ball for a significant amount of time. If your dog is really tuckered out, he or she will hopefully just snooze while you are gone!
Break Up Your Same Old Routine
Some dogs start to get nervous as you prepare to leave. They recognize your routine of getting dressed, packing up your bag, putting on your shoes, grabbing your keys, etc. Break the pattern that your dog sees every time by doing your “getting ready” routine but then sitting down on the couch for a while before leaving.
Turn Alone Time into Fun
Give your dog a special treat, one that they will ONLY get when you leave – like a frozen Kong filled with peanut butter or a snack that will take them some time to eat. It’s important that your dog will only get this special treat when you are gone. Then, while you are at home, you can train your dog to become more comfortable with being away from you by increasing independent playtime with mentally stimulating toys like West Paw that he or she will then know how to use while you’re gone.
Try CBD Oil
CBD oil is used for its anti-anxiety properties and is something every pet parent of a dog struggling with separation should consider. Pet Releaf Edibites Peanut Butter & Carob Calming treats with CBD oil will be tasty to your dog while the CBD helps to calm him or her down. Be sure to ask your vet before trying CBD oil, and read our blog all about it!
Doggy Daycare to the Rescue
At The Hipster Hound doggy daycare, dogs can run, play, and get plenty of exercise in a safe environment in the care of our experienced yard attendants and handlers. Paired with dogs of similar size and personality, Hipster Hound dogs enjoy endless socialization with their bffs, making it the most exciting day ever – over and over and over again!
At the end of the day, you’ll pick up a tired but happy dog who will be begging you to bring them back for more doggy daycare at The Hipster Hound! Learn more about our doggy daycare, and then make an appointment online today. You’ll never have to worry about your furry family member’s separation anxiety again. See you at daycare!
Rex, The Original Hipster Hound