Tips for Tackling Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Have you ever returned home from your daily errands to find your pet has chewed a sizeable hole in the living room carpet, gone to the bathroom in the home or constantly barked all day long? Separation anxiety is a common behavioural issue in dogs that are separated from the individual to whom they are super-attached. The dogs become anxious when they notice signs of the person leaving, such as picking up the car keys or packing a suitcase.

When you notice a change in your dog's behaviour when you are just about to leave the house, you should consider taking your dog for a veterinary checkup to exclude any underlying health issues and learn a number of behaviour adjustment tips to help an anxious dog remain at home comfortably.

Departure cues

The first step recommended by a veterinary behaviourist is to begin by conditioning your pet to departure cues so that they lack any real significance. Dress nicely as you always do on workdays, then relax on the sofa and read a newspaper. Pack a few belongings in a suitcase and pack it in the vehicle, but don't leave the house. Carry your house keys with you to another room or outside and then come back after a few minutes. These actions seek to minimise your dog's correlation of those actions with you leaving. Over time, your dog will become more relaxed when you actually leave.

Another tip is to make your departure a special occasion by giving your dog a favourite toy or treat that's available only each time you leave the house. This serves to distract your dog from your actual departure, as they will be busy for a while playing with the toy or eating the treat. Of course, use only toys that your dog can't completely destroy.

Other routines that dog owners can incorporate into a departure practice include switching the TV to a nature channel, switching the radio to jazz or classical station or playing any music genre that your pet seems to enjoy. You may as well buy music produced specifically to please dogs. You can get more strategies from your veterinarian.

Incorporating all these rituals into your regular routine trains your pet that good things come about upon your departure. Consequently, your dog can relax while you're away. Don't forget to leave your dog with access to fresh water, food and a potty area as well as a nice place to play and sleep. The veterinary services offered at a vet's office may also be beneficial to helping your dog cope if there are other issues at play.