We know that 2020 has been an unusual year both for our canine friends and us. Your dog may have been used to you and the kids being home with the COVID restrictions and they were loving every minute of the extra attention! However, with some kids going back-to-school and some parents going back to the office, your dog may be exhibiting signs of loneliness and stress that manifests itself in the form of separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety creates behavior issues that can range from mild to severe, from barking for 5 minutes to tearing apart drywall. Remember that dogs are pack animals and don’t understand the concept of being alone. Symptoms of separation anxiety may include:
- Destruction. Have you ever come home to the stuffing out of all your couch cushions? Your dog may chew on the furniture or anything they can get their teeth on.
- Escape. To find you or rejoin you, your dog may chew through a door or scratch a window frame or dig large holes under a fence. In some severe cases, dogs have been known to throw themselves through a plate glass window. This can be very dangerous!
- Urinating or defecating. Dogs that are normally housetrained may poop or pee in the house upon your departure.
- Barking and howling. Some dogs may bark uncontrollably when their parents leave, which can be very disturbing to the neighbors.
- Excessive drooling and sweating in your absence: Your dog might also drink excessively to make up for the lost fluids.
- Pacing and Panting: This behavior is usually displayed when your dog suspects that you’re getting ready to leave the house. Some dogs can also show signs of depression during the pre-departure period.
Getting Ready for Separation
Here are some tips to help your dog overcome separation anxiety:
- Start by leaving your dog for short periods of time. Depending on the severity of the separation anxiety, you may have to start with 5-minute increments and then increase the time as your dog becomes comfortable with being alone.
- Leave your dog with some interactive toys like food puzzles or Kongs.
- Before you leave, make sure you take your dog for some exercise. A tired dog is less likely to misbehave!
- If you have been crate training your dog, he may be comfortable being left in the crate while you are gone. Giving him the run of the house could lead to destruction.
- Do not punish your dog for bad behavior after you come home. Dogs relate punishment to their current behavior so they will be unable to link your actions to their previous misdeeds.
If you need help with separation anxiety, Greg Knows Dogs can help! Maybe it’s time as the kids go back-to-school for your dog to go back as well!