Separation anxiety is one of the most common challenges that pet owners encounter. And this problem is certainly one that professional dog trainers must deal with frequently.
Although the best way to address separation anxiety is to work with a professional dog trainer, pet owners can help the process along by learning skills that will help to combat this behavioral challenge.
No. 1: Fight Separation Anxiety by Taking It Slow
Every time you leave – even to take out the trash – your dog is pretty sure you’ll never return. And, when you leave for eight or more hours at a time, it definitely will seem like it.
You can build trust and confidence in your pet by working with him to prove you will return. Leave the house as your normally would but come back in a few minutes – or even a few seconds if your dog’s anxiety is severe.
Gradually extend your time away as your pet develops more trust that you will return.
No. 2: Don’t Make a Big Deal about Leaving – or Coming Home
If you lovingly kiss your pet goodbye, apologize for leaving or otherwise make a big deal about your departure, you can definitely make your pet’s separation anxiety worse.
Fido knows your routine, which means he knows you’re leaving long before you go. He’s already anxious about this and, when you make a big deal about the separation, you encourage him to do the same.
Go about your business and, when it’s time to leave, leave. Use the same approach when you get home. Come in and do whatever you normally would when you return home. Your pet will be very excited to see you and, likely, demanding of attention.
Don’t show him any attention until a few moments have passed and he has calmed down completely.
No. 3: Help Your Dog Expend Some Energy to Lessen Separation Anxiety
Before you leave the house (but not right before), take your pet for an energetic walk or have a rowdy game of “Fetch” in the yard. Helping your dog expend some energy this way can be effective for lessening separation anxiety.
After your walk or play time, give him a little snack. Most dogs will settle in for a long nap afterward. This is the perfect time for you to make your exit.
If you don’t help your dog work off a little energy before you go, he will put all of that pent-up energy into his anxiety.
No. 4: Leave Your Dog with an Engaging Distraction
If our pet has a particularly long-lasting treat that he loves – a frozen turkey neck, marrow bone or filled Kong, for example – leave it with him when you go.
This is especially helpful if you crate your pet, as he will be distracted by his frozen treat for some time after your leave.
These tips can be helpful for dealing with separation anxiety in your dog, but they won’t solve all your problems. Professional dog training can, however.
Innovative K9 Academy, based in Salt Lake City UT, specializes in helping pet owners with problem behaviors. Our experienced dog trainers can work with your pet, and teach you the best ways to support that training at home. In almost every case, we can help you overcome this challenge and restore harmony in your home.
Contact us today to learn more about how professional dog training can help your pet’s separation anxiety problems.