Overcoming Separation Anxiety

Most of us are glad the pandemic is easing and places are opening up. In fact, many people are going back to the office after more than a year at home. Although this may be exciting for you, your dog may not be so happy!

He/she may begin to suffer from separation anxiety, a nervousness that occurs in dogs when left alone. After having your undivided attention, they are confused by the change in their routine. Remember that dogs are creatures of habit. Suddenly they are wondering: “where did you go?”

I have seen dogs suffering from separation anxiety eat through drywall and tear through doors. In many cases there will be destruction or excessive barking and sudden toileting in inappropriate places. A dog with separation anxiety might try to escape from an area where he’s confined or left alone or separated from his owner.

Fortunately, I have a lot of experience in helping dogs overcome separation anxiety and learn that being away from you is okay. Together we will practice “alone time” for your dog, starting in short increments and increasing the time each day until your dog is comfortable with you being gone.

A few tips in the meantime:

  • Don’t make a big deal of your coming and going. Practice leaving and coming back in without a lot of fuss. If your dog jumps all over you when you get home, we will need to address this behavior.
  • Don’t allow your dog to be attached to you at the hip and follow you throughout the house.
  • Scatter some treats around the house to satisfy the hunting or foraging instinct in your dog.
  • Leave interactive toys that will keep your dog busy and rotate them weekly to keep your dog’s attention.
  • Crate training may be the perfect option for your dog to feel secure and have a place to call his own. You may want to leave an article of your clothes that smells like you in your dog’s crate.
  • Make sure your pup is well exercised. A tired, happy pup will be less stressed when you leave.
  • Dogs pick up on your emotions. The more you stay relaxed and act like everything is normal, the more likely your dog will be to follow your lead.

Although dogs were the big winners during COVID, now it’s time to return to our normal schedules.