How To Fix Fido’s Separation Anxiety

Separation-Anxiety-in-Dogs-600x399With our puppy Watson, leaving him home while we were out was always a problem; he’d tear up bedding, destroy everything in his wake, and eat things that should never pass his mouth. This was a huge issue; it was too hot to bring him everywhere in the summer, and too cold in the winter (leaving dogs in a too hot or cold car is neverĀ an option). My dad could no longer bring him to work during the day, and there was no way either one of my parents could leave their jobs just for Watson to never have to be left alone during the work week. Doggy day care was an option, except for the fact that it was a very expensive one.
On a side note, before you assume it’s separation anxiety bothering Fido, make sure there’s nothing wrong with him physically; his peeing on the floor may be a urinary tract infection, not an anxiety problem. Also be sure that there aren’t any behavioral problems that may be making your dog act this way; it can’t be fixed if you mistake it as anxiety over you leaving.
Our method, we eventually figured out, was pretty simple. To ease this separation anxiety, the exit from your home must be calm, just like the entrance when you return home to your dog. Watson, being as high strung as he is, needed something other than a nice goodbye to calm him down, so when we leave him, we give him a little treat that has natural sedatives to make him relax and lay down while he’s home. Make sure that your dog has no allergies before you use a sedative, and it’s also a good idea to check with your trusted veterinarian that it is okay for your dog to have sedatives as well.
Another good idea is to give your dog a Kong or other fun toy filled with a treat or tasty Kong gel. This keeps your dog entertained with something other than tearing up your couch or bed, and also lets the dog associate your leaving with a positive reward.
Another way to tire your dog out is to take him/her for a walk or run to the dog park before leaving him/her home. We do this with Watson so when he’s home he’ll sleep, and it’s usually as effective as the sedative, depending on how long the exercise session is.
While my dad is at work, he keeps Skype up on his computer to monitor Watson when he’s home alone during the work week. This monitoring isn’t accessible by everyone, but if it’s possible for you, I highly recommend it; plus, it also works when you go out and want to check on your dog with the Skype app. This way, if your dog is misbehaving, you can go home and prevent any real damage to your things or injury to your dog before it happens.
We have three dogs, so when Watson is home alone, we put him in a room with Daisy, one of our three, and he enjoys laying with her. Abbie, our other dog, goes in another room because she’s older and doesn’t like to play with young Watson even though he really wants to play with her. If you have more than one dog, your dog with separation anxiety may enjoy being with his/her brother/sister as it may give him/her a bit of comfort.
When you return home, make sure the greeting is just as calm as the goodbye. Greet your dog, but then wait until he/her calms down before paying attention to him/her. This establishes the calm environment your dog will eventually associate with your comings and goings, making for less stress and tension on both sides.

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