How To Avoid Separation Anxiety

Leaving your dog at home alone can cause a lot of anxiety for them. They can become destructive, bark all day and even scared. So how do you minimise their anxiety?

May 20 2020
How To Avoid Separation Anxiety

Leaving your dog at home alone can be fraught with danger. Depending on your dog you never know what you might come home to.

With us, all at home, our pets have gotten used to having our undivided attention. When that all changes, they may fret, and become destructive. That is mostly due to lack of attention and boredom. They may even bark and cry all day. There is a big concern that a lot of new dog owners might not be aware of this behaviour which may cause dogs to be dumped or given to the RSPCA and that is mostly due to owner inexperience. So hopefully we have a few tips here which may help.

So how do you minimise the anxiety?

Dogs have separation anxiety because they are afraid, they are scared you are leaving them, and they don't know if you are going to come back or not.

We are all able to leave home for several reasons at the moment, so when you go out don't take the dog. Leave the dog at home for a couple of hours or longer if you can. Or if you drive to work, go and sit in your car and come back inside without greeting them. Don't make a fuss.

The more fuss you make about leaving, the cuddles, the kisses, the gestures of farewell, plays on that anxiety and makes it worse.

The same when you return if you make a big fuss of returning home, the dog is waiting all day for that fuss and greeting, and so the tension and anxiety build the longer you are away.

The key here is to minimise the fuss, come and go and try to make it a no big deal.

Dogs pick up on our routines as well, and they know when it is time for dinner, time for treats, etc. So if they start to pick up on your going to leaving home/work routine, they may begin to become anxious. So while you are at home try to replicate your going to work routine, i.e. getting up, dressed, getting your car keys or going out the front door and coming home. That way, when you are actually doing this, the dog won't realise you are leaving them and get stressed in advance. So you do a fake schedule.

Your dog may be used to having a good walk before you leave for work, so ensure this routine is kept up and while you are at work your dog will sleep for most of the day while you are out and possibly not even notice you are gone.

To reiterate, don't make a fuss when you leave – just go. Often dog owners talk in baby voices to their dogs, dogs associate that with walks and fun, so don't speak to them in this tone when you are leaving. Don't talk to them for 20 – 30 minutes before you leave.

Ok we know that might be easier said than done as separation anxiety can work both ways, and we would all prefer to stay at home with our dogs. But it is for your dogs own good.

Try to get some good chew toys and things to keep them entertained are good leave-behinds. Kong's work well when you can stuff them with treats that are a bit special – things that don't usually get which they love. So then they think you are leaving, but the added bonus is they get an awesome treat. Make sure it can last for at least half an hour.

If the anxiety is really bad you may have to try some other methods, but this is a good first step.