Separation anxiety can be a harrowing experience for both dogs and their owners. One of the reasons why dogs quickly get anxious when they are alone is because they are social creatures who thrive on companionship. When loneliness becomes too much for them, they can indulge in destructive behaviours like digging, howling, excessive barking and even self injury.
However, with some simple strategies and understanding, you can prevent the issues of separation anxiety in dogs. In this blog, you will see seven such practical tips which are easy to implement and will significantly improve the well-being of your dog.
So, let us get started.
1) Gradual Departures and Arrival
Your sudden departure and arrival can trigger anxiety in dogs. To prevent this, make sure your comings and goings are low-key. You need to desensitise your dogs to your departure by leaving for short periods and then slowly increasing the duration over time. Also, when you return, wait for your dog to calm down before giving them attention. This step is highly useful because it gives a signal to your dogs that your absence is temporary and there is nothing to worry about.
2) Set up a Routine
Dogs are animals who thrive on routine and predictability. By establishing a consistent daily schedule for their meals, exercise and playtime, you can create a sense of security in them. A routine also creates an organised environment which dogs can rely on, reducing the uncertainty and stress associated with separation. Above all, having a schedule gives the dogs a sense of familiarity, which plays a key role in keeping them calm when you are out of the house.
3) Provide Mental Stimulation
When your dogs feel bored, it can worsen the separation anxiety in them. So there is a need to keep them engaged and entertained when you are out of the house. It would be best if you could buy them stimulating dog toys to keep them riveted for a decent duration. Besides, these toys also help a great deal in promoting healthy chewing behaviour in those dogs who have the habit of excessive chewing.
4) Create a Safe Space
Dogs are animals who feel secure in their own place, and this is why they need a designated area where they can relax when they are alone at home. This can be a crate, a specific room, a cosy corner with comfortable bedding. Having a dedicated safe space provides your dogs with a sense of security and familiarity, which can alleviate anxiety in them in your absence. A separate space for your dogs makes them feel protected and loved as well.
5) Gradual Alone Time
Arguably the best way to prevent separation anxiety, gradually increasing the alone time of your pet can go a long way to keep them calm. All you need to do is teach your dogs to be comfortable with alone time by slowly increasing the duration they spend alone. Start with shorter periods, like a few minutes, and gradually extend the time as your dogs become more comfortable. During their alone time, ensure your dogs have access to engaging toys, such as chew toys and interactive toys, which will keep them distracted.
6) Positive Reinforcement
Positive Reinforcement goes a long way in training and managing separation anxiety in your furry friends. For those who don’t know, positive reinforcement means rewarding your dogs whenever they do something positive. So in this case, you can reward your dogs for showing calm behaviour whenever you enter or you are going out of the house.
To reward your dogs, you can make use of some delicious dog treats, praising or even having some good playtime with your dogs. This positive association will tremendously help them to associate your departure with a positive experience, reducing anxiety over time.
7) Seek Professional Help, If Necessary
If you think your dog’s separation anxiety persists or worsens despite your efforts, it is highly imperative to seek professional help from your veterinarian or a certified dog trainer. They can provide your specialised guidance, behaviour changing tips, or even recommended medications if necessary. Remember that each dog is unique, and professional assistance can make a huge difference in managing separation anxiety effectively.