Separation anxiety is a common issue among pets. According to a study, 47.38% of dogs suffer separation anxiety in 2022. It can be very distressing to the dog and their owners, who may not know how to help them.
Fortunately, there are many ways that you can manage separation anxiety so that your dog feels comfortable and safe while you’re away from home. Here are our top 5 tips for helping your dog overcome separation anxiety.
Provide a Calm Environment
When you first bring your dog home, it’s essential to provide a calm environment for them. It is important not to leave the dog alone for too long or in an unfamiliar place, as this can increase their separation anxiety and make things worse.
Instead, consider keeping them in a familiar room at first, such as the kitchen or living room, where they’ll feel comfortable while you go about your daily routine. They will also be able to have some separation from you when necessary without being stressed out by being away from home so much or feeling abandoned.
It’s also good practice to give them some privacy at night so that they can rest properly and adjust more easily during these initial stages of settling into your new routine at home together.
Crate Train Your Dog
According to AKC, crate training benefits all kinds of dogs, even difficult rescue dogs. Crate training is a great way to help your dog overcome separation anxiety. You can control their environment by crate training your dog, giving them less reason to panic when left alone. Crate training also allows you to control access to food, water, and toys. It helps ensure that they don’t get too hungry or thirsty while you are away and prevents them from destroying your belongings.
Crate training can be used as part of the housebreaking process. It gives the dog an appropriate place to go potty when needed by restricting access to other areas in the home where they might choose the wrong spot on the carpet. You can buy crates online or offline, depending on the size of your dog. One of the best places to pick them online is PetCareRx.
Tire Them Out With Exercise
The next time you and your dog feel unusually anxious, try giving them a longer walk or playtime. It is a great way to tire out their mind and body. If they’re outside or in their pen, they’ll get the chance to sniff around and explore the area, which can help distract them from whatever else has been bothering them.
Exercise also helps dogs sleep better at night, so if your dog is having trouble sleeping because of separation anxiety issues, it might be worth taking them on an extra long walk before bedtime. Besides making sure that they’re tired physically, it will also give them some quality bonding time with you (if only for 5 minutes at a time before bedtime).
Seek Professional Help
Statista reports that around 87% of pet parents feel mentally healthier because of their pets. But what if your pets themselves are not mentally healthy? What do you do in such cases?
If your dog’s separation anxiety is severe, it might be time to seek professional help. A pet psychologist can work with you and your puppy to figure out what caused the separation anxiety in the first place. They’ll also help you develop a plan of attack so that your dog learns how to handle these anxious feelings on his own.
A pet behaviorist will also be able to address some of your dog’s separation anxiety symptoms, but they’ll do so through training techniques and exercises rather than by working through the root cause of the problem. If you aren’t comfortable with having a stranger enter your home, this may not be right for you.
The final option is finding a psychiatrist who specializes in treating pets (a field known as animal psychiatry). These doctors won’t know as much about training techniques and how dogs learn as other professionals. But they’re great at helping owners understand how best to care for their pups during this challenging period in their lives.
Find a Unique Toy That Gives Treats
Look for a toy made of soft material that your dog enjoys. A soft rubber ball or one with a squeaker inside usually works well. You can also purchase toys explicitly made for this purpose, but you’ll want to be sure that the material used isn’t toxic and won’t cause harm if your dog decides to chew it.
If possible, find a toy with an opening in it so that you can fill it with treats as needed. It will further encourage your pet’s interest in keeping the object close by when separation anxiety hits. If your dog has trouble holding onto anything small enough to fit into its mouth, consider using something more extensive, like a Kong Wobbler. As a bonus, these items typically help clean teeth while providing mental stimulation during playtime.
Your Dog Can Overcome Their Anxiety and Act Normal
The first step is to understand what’s causing your dog’s anxiety. If it’s a situational trigger, like being left alone or at a new place, then you may be able to address the issue by getting your dog used to being left alone in a safe environment. For example, if your dog panics when left home alone, start by letting them stay home for short periods with someone else present, perhaps someone who could help calm them down if needed. Then gradually increase the time spent alone until they’re okay with being alone for an entire day. If the cause of their anxiety is based on physical issues (e.g., arthritis), some medications can help manage joint pain and prevent flare-ups; check with your vet before starting any meds.
The best thing you can do for your dog is to give them the tools they need to overcome their anxiety. You can do it through training, playtime, exercise, and routine. Your dog will quickly learn that being alone is not something to fear anymore and slowly begin acting like their old selves again.