Separation anxiety in pets – especially dogs – has been an issue that pet parents have been struggling with for ages. Have you ever noticed your dog whining when you leave? Whether you are staying close to home in Brevard County or making a day trip to Orlando – your pup is visibly distraught, and it makes it difficult to go anywhere for any length of time. Even driving from Palm Bay to Melbourne can result in dangerous and sometimes destructive behavior.
Do you come home only to find the corner of the couch has been gnawed on?
Are your doors filled with scratches?
If these are the typical problems that you encounter, then your dog may have separation anxiety.
The first thing to determine is if your dog actually has separation anxiety. What you may assume to be stress could, in fact, be a case of doggie boredom. As a pet parent, you may have to spy on your dog. Set up a camera or go around to a window to watch what he does when you leave.
Does he quietly walk over to the garbage and rifle through it? Or does he desperately try to claw his way out of the window? Is he bored or scared? Let’s try and get to the bottom of this!
Mild Isolation Distress
A dog that suffers isolation distress means that he doesn’t want to be left alone. Having a pet service come by can help ease your dog’s anxiety during the day. A friendly face is sure to brighten their day!
Having another dog to play with can help. Keeping toys available that challenge and entertain is another way to keep your dog doing anything but worrying about you. You can also leave the TV or radio on. If the dog is used to the TV being on all day, then having it be turned off when you leave can lead to confusion. That’s something a lot of our clients ask us to do when caring for their anxious pets.
Calming treats can be used. Soft chews with all-natural ingredients, and even CBD oil, can be tasty and help ease the nervousness that the dog may experience. These have the extra benefit of being extremely helpful if the dog gets nervous during thunderstorms or fireworks.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety will show itself as panic in the dog. They will be desperate to get out and go. They will have pent-up nervous energy. The destructive behavior of biting, scratching, and clawing will be evident.
A dog’s separation anxiety should not be taken lightly. If left untreated, the dog can injure himself during a panic attack. Dogs have been known to try to break through a window, or worse, trying to escape the overwhelming anxiety. Treatment of severe separation anxiety involves teaching the dog to be relaxed when you are not with him. As you may know, this is sometimes easier said than done.
Some dogs are not used to being away from their pack. Like his family, you are now his pack. When the pack leaves, he panics. You have to get him to understand the new normal – that being alone is okay. Giving the dog a simple treat will not distract him from the anxiety. You will have to be clever, taking small steps to accomplish this goal.
Trusted Tips to Help Your Dog
Your dog may start getting nervous by merely seeing you put on your shoes. If that is the case, try putting your shoes on and taking them off multiple times throughout the day. He will get used to you changing shoes and not associate it with you leaving him.
Another trick is to get dressed like you are leaving the house, then play inside with him. Or put on your work clothes, give him a treat and step outside the door. Wait a few minutes, then come back in. Keep increasing the time before you re-enter. He’ll adapt and overcome. Sneaky! You may have to enlist help from family and friends. Having a dog sitter or dog walking service come over will also help with the anxiety.
An active dog is a tired dog. Giving a dog plenty of exercise each day will encourage him to rest and not stress. This is true for any level of anxiety a dog may face. Exercising the dog 20 minutes or so before you leave will give him plenty of time to calm down. Chances are, a well-exercised pup will be napping before you get to the end of the driveway.
You can also make your departure and return a low-key affair. Instead of encouraging big sloppy dog kisses, give a friendly welcome pat and go about your business. There will be time to play later.
Using an all-natural essential oil like T-Away can help calm and comfort your dog. It can be applied to their fur or diffused near their crate in an open and well-ventilated area. It will help your dog feel secure and safe. This has been a tried and true method used in my own home with both guest pups and my own.
A dog’s separation anxiety is heartbreaking. With loving care, this is something your pet can overcome. It won’t be easy, but with patience and dedication, you can help your dog understand being alone does not have to be scary.
Dog walking, house visits, and pet sitting are services that pet care professionals provide that will help with separation anxiety. Having a friendly face to visit and play can ease the separation that your dog faces when his pet parent leaves home.
We provide reliable, trustworthy care for your dogs (and cats!) when they get lonely. Book now or contact us at Space Coast Pet Services and let us help ease your mind and your pup’s the next time you need to spend some time away from home.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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