If your dog had their way, you two would never spend a moment apart. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Sometimes you come home after a long day, and you can see your dog had just as hard of a day. You might notice gnawed furniture, scratched doors and puddles where there were no puddles before. Your neighbors might even have a few choice words about all the barking and whining they had to put up with while you were away. Separation Anxiety in dogs is tough to deal with, both for you and your furry best friend. That’s why we’ve found five ways to help your dog with their separation anxiety.
1. Get your dog some exercise
Anxious dogs have anxious energy. Exercise is a great stress reliever for dogs just like it is for people. Even just an hour of exercise a day could help reduce your dog’s anxiety, especially if you do it before you leave. Take your dog out for a run, a visit to the dog park, or throw around their favorite toy. Throw a ball while you grill with your friends. If your dog has enough mental stimulation before you leave, it can make it easier for them to manage while you’re gone. If nothing else, they’ll have a little less energy to spend noshing on your new coffee table or chewing through cords.
2. The right toy can help with your dog’s separation anxiety
Not every toy will do it, but sometimes your dog needs a toy that can keep them distracted and entertained while you’re gone. Ideally, these toys would keep your dog engaged on a few levels. They can be fun, dispense food, or offer some comfort. Kong has a puzzle toy that drops kibbles as your dog plays with it. It incentivizes more play by rewarding your dog without overdoing it.
On the other end of the spectrum, you could get your dog a toy that is more geared towards snuggling. You could even tie one of your shirts to it so your dog can cuddle up to something that smells like their favorite person.
3. Try some behavior modification with your dog
Training your dog is hard, but with some time and effort, you can teach your dog how to behave, and not just when they’re anxious. It might be overwhelming when you’re first setting out to start training your dog, but there are tools that can help. Namely, The Essential 2022 Dog Training Bundle is a great place to start for a comprehensive look at how to train your pup. This training bundle comes with eight courses teaching you everything from leash training to becoming an actual dog whisperer.
Courses like Dog Training: A-Z Guide To Puppy And Dog Training can give you the tools to show your dog what a proper pup acts like while their owner is away. Learn commands, identify methods to stop your dog from barking, and even learn what natural remedies can help your dog’s health.
Even if you’ve had dogs for years, this can be a great refresher. That’s what one reviewer claimed, “Even though I have had many puppies over the years, I have forgotten more and then was reintroduced back to the commonsense method of obtaining the desired results.” If you want your dog to know exactly what to do while you’re away, this $19.99 training is a perfect starting point.
4. Try positive reinforcement training for your dog
Sometimes the simplest solution is the correct one. Don’t punish your dog when they’re anxious and acting out. Instead, create a situation where your dog can make the right decision and then reward them. The best place to start is at the door. If you have a series of steps you take before you leave, run through them. If you grab your keys or jacket and your dog sees, do that and step outside. Then come back in a moment later so your dog knows it’s not always a bad thing when you grab your go-items. You could even give them one of their favorite treats to really cement that leaving isn’t always bad.
Keep going in that model. Praise your dog when they don’t use the bathroom inside. Give them a treat when they go for a toy instead of a table leg. Vary how often you reward your dog so they don’t start acting out just for the payoff, and you’ll have a well-behaved doggy in no time.
5. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s separation anxiety
If your dog is resistant to other types of training and behavior modification, then you may need to talk to your veterinarian about anxiety medication for your dog. No anxiety medicine is a cure-all, but there are two types of medication that could considerably help your dog.
Depending on your dog’s anxiety, your vet might recommend long-acting or short-acting medication. Long-acting takes time to build up and is recommended for dogs that are going to be left alone on a consistent basis. If you regularly have to leave the house for work, this may be what your vet suggests. In contrast, for short-term anxiety relief in dogs that are left alone infrequently, they may recommend short-acting medication.
Neither type of treatment is meant to be all-encompassing. Combine these with the other methods in this list for best results, and make sure to give yourself some quality time with your pup.
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