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Dogs are social animals that enjoy spending as much time with their owners as possible. As owners, we too cherish every moment we get to spend with our furry friends.
It’s true that many pet owners have developed a deeper bond with their pets during the pandemic. However, this may make it more difficult to leave them at home once we return to our respective workplaces. In addition to this, many dogs suffer from separation anxiety when their owners are away.
In this guide we will examine different ways to manage your dog’s separation anxiety, to help them remain happy and content while you are at your workplace.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety in dogs is defined as a condition in which canines display distress or other behavioral problems when separated from their owners. This anxiety’s onset typically occurs a few minutes after the separation, and may persist until the owner returns.
Signs of Separation Anxiety?
It’s not uncommon for dogs to be clingy when their owners are about to leave the house. This is normal behavior, and is distinct from the more-serious separation anxiety. Some signs your dog suffers from separation anxiety include:
● Whining and trembling
● Barking or howling excessively.
● Urinating inside the house.
● Chewing on furniture and engaging in other destructive behaviors.
● Refusal to eat.
If left unaddressed, separation anxiety may lead to your canine harming themselves or others. Luckily, there are many different ways to manage this problem so that everyone is happy.
Managing Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can be difficult to eliminate, but you can reduce its severity in different ways. This includes:
Leaving Behind Articles of Clothing
You can provide your canine with an article of clothing that smells like you before leaving for work in the morning. This could be an old t-shirt you wear around the house, or a pair of track pants. This is a useful solution to reduce anxiety in dogs, as your scent may help keep your dog pacified until you return.
Avoid Drawing Attention to Departures and Arrivals
We’re used to our pets greeting us excitedly whenever we return from somewhere. It’s one of the joys of pet ownership. However, if you make each arrival or departure a big deal in front of your pet, it reinforces their idea that it is an important event.
For this reason, it’s best to downplay your departures and arrivals. For example, you should wait for a few minutes after coming home from work to greet your dog. This greeting should also be conducted in a calm manner, so that your pet stops anticipating your arrival as eagerly.
Provide Stimulating Activities
One of the best ways to ward off separation anxiety is to keep your canine busy while you are away. You can purchase special treat dispensing toys that gradually release treats the more your pets squeeze and shake them. This should offer your pet many hours of entertainment.
Similarly, you can ask a neighbor or a friend to play with your dog while you are away. This solution also helps them expend excess energy, which reduces the likelihood of them engaging in destructive behaviors.
Get a Second Dog
Loneliness can be a major trigger for separation anxiety in dogs. For this reason, you may want to consider getting a second dog to keep your first one company. Dogs are social animals after all, and bringing a new pup into the house offers them a chance to form a bond with a living creature other than their owner.
This is a natural treatment for dogs with separation anxiety, and may prove useful if you can find the right dog to pair your existing pet with.
Create a Comfortable Space
Another way to help your canine feel more at ease when you are away is to create a comfortable space for them. This could be a separate room with all their favorite dog toys and a comfortable doggy bed. It could also be a small corner of your living room near a window where they can see the outside world.
Some owners like to include “snuggle” toys in these spaces. These are special stuffed animal toys shaped like dogs. They contain a device that vibrates to mimic the beating of a heart, which may help your pup feel more comfortable. Some of these toys also include special warmer packs to help replicate the feeling of body heat.
Using Calming Supplements
Many pet stores sell special supplements or treats designed to calm down your pet. This includes soft chews containing L-Theanine, a compound which decreases the brain chemicals that contribute towards anxiety and stress.
Similarly, you can try dog-friendly CBD chews. These treats contain cannabidiol (CBD) the active ingredient found in hemp, which offers strong calming properties. Depending on your pet’s weight, you can give them one or two CBD chews before leaving for work in the morning. This may help them remain calm for the duration you are away.
It’s worth trying various calming supplements and seeing which ones work best for your canine, especially if the aforementioned strategies haven’t worked for you.
If your dog’s anxiety is severe, you should take them to a veterinarian. Some types of separation anxiety are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and are therefore treated with the help of special medications. Your vet may prescribe antidepressant drugs such as Prozac or Clomicalm for your dog.
This is usually a last resort for dogs with severe anxiety, as such medications may come with side effects, such as loss of appetite and/or lethargy.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to manage your dog’s separation anxiety. There may not be any way to completely eliminate this condition, but you can certainly help your pet feel more at ease while you are at work by following the aforementioned strategies.
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