Pets require your time and attention to lead happy and healthy lives. From training to exercising or simply cuddling on the couch, quality time is a crucial part of bonding with your pet. However, a healthy pet should also be able to tolerate limited time alone.
Dogs can easily suffer separation anxiety if they are not properly socialized. Therefore, proper socialization with both people and other animals is an important part of your pet’s training. This includes not only play and interaction with other animals and humans, but also quiet time spent occupying themselves with toys. A well-adjusted dog will be well-behaved and comfortable even if its owners are not in the room.
With proper training, separation anxiety in pets is avoidable. Reward the behaviors you want your dog to continue and keep an eye out for symptoms that they’re feeling anxious when you’re away.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Separation anxiety often affects dogs that are overly dependent on their human owners. They can become anxious and showcase distressed behaviors such as whining, barking, destruction, or house soiling when kept away from the owners.
Most pets with separation anxiety tend to remain close to their owners and follow them from room to room. In addition to vocalization, inappropriate elimination, and destructive behavior, other signs of separation anxiety in dogs may include:
- Refusing to eat
- Becoming quiet and withdrawn
If you notice any of the above changes to your dog’s behavior, it is important to consult with your vet to rule out any serious health issues.
How to Prevent Separation Anxiety
You can reduce the risk of separation anxiety by ensuring your dog has scheduled time to relax alone in their own house or crate. This helps them learn to be comfortable alone for a limited time and trust that you will return.
It’s important to note that some pets develop separation anxiety following an unpleasant event that occurred while they were alone, such as a thunderstorm or loud fireworks. You should consider any environmental factors that may be causing anxiety in your pet and ensure that you provide comfort when they need it.
Here are some steps you can take to help a dog with separation anxiety:
- Establish a predictable routine
- Provide an environment that meets your dog’s needs, with plenty of toys and a safe and comfortable area for relaxation
- Make a habit of offering rewards after your dog successfully spends time in their kennel
- Teach your dog responses to simple commands, including “settle”
Immediate Steps You Can Take
Training your dog to feel comfortable in your absence can be a long process. In the early stages, it might be a wise idea to hire a dog sitter, get a friend or family member to take care of your pet during the day, take your dog to work, or board them for the day. Crate training techniques also work for dogs that already have a comfortable area where they are accustomed to being confined.
If your dog exhibits signs of separation anxiety, you should use crates with caution because they can encourage escape attempts that result in serious injuries. It is also essential to choose a room or area that minimizes your dog’s anxiety. For instance, your dog’s feeding area or bedroom may be the most practical space for calm and restful solitary time.
Depending on the severity of your situation, your vet may recommend anti-anxiety drugs or pheromones to deliver short-term remedies until you’ve effectively corrected the problem. As with any pet health or behavioral concern, it is important to consult your vet for professional guidance on separation anxiety and your pet’s general well-being.