During these past couple of years, pet-owners have been spending a ton of extra time with their furry friends. Whether it’s because their jobs moved to remote working or for some other reason, it’s true to say that our dogs have been spoiled with us spending more time at home.
For some people, 2022 began the year of slowly transitioning back into the office. For some pets, that’s triggered anxiety attacks because now they don’t have their person their with them 24/7. Let’s dive into how to help deal with that and what to do if your dog may suffer from one.
What are some symptoms of dog separation anxiety?
Of course, much like humans, all dogs and their emotions are so different that it’s really hard to pinpoint exact symptoms for each and every dog experiencing this out in this world. Some dogs get sad, some dogs get into trouble, some dogs may hide, and some may express their fear and anxiety in a variety of other ways; here are some of those, according to ASPCA and AKC:
- Having an accident in the house
- More than usual barking and/or howling
- Unusual chewing and making a mess
Some dogs may start to exhibit these behaviors right before you leave and others won’t actually start until you’re gone, gone. If you really are going to be gone, do a test for an hour. Go run an errand or set up a camera and park your car a couple blocks down to really observe your dog. Once you identify his/her biggest and main symptoms, then you’ll surely know how to help them to cope with being alone during your given work day.
Why do dogs experience separation anxiety? What are some reasons?
Sure, some puppies are more anxious than others, as we discussed up above. In fact, according to the ASPCA, there are a few actually documented reasons for this, and one of the main points of their research is that anxiety attacks are more common in rescue dogs; this could be because they were separated from someone important or even lost a canine or human friend.
Dogs, much like humans, are such creatures of habit that even the slightest change in anything around them can completely and totally disrupt their well-being. Because of all of these factors, even their owner returning to work can certainly make them nervous as well.
How can we help our dogs who may suffer from separation anxiety attacks?
Before we really touch on how exactly to help our pups, it’s super important to make sure that there aren’t any other sort of medical or diagnosed behavioral issues that are contributing to said anxious symptoms. Certain medications may cause stuff like this to happen, so make sure you trust your dog’s veterinarian and ask them any sort of questions – big or small!
Okay…back onto helping our pups…
According to Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine, their website states the following:
"“…the goal of treating separation anxiety is not to reduce symptoms but to get to the root cause of their anxiety by teaching them to tolerate — and maybe even like — being alone.”"
First of all, trying making some small changes. For example, try walking and/or feeding your dog(s) before you actually leave the house. For some dogs, and even humans included as well, exercise can be a stress reliever, and may even help them take a little dog nap while you’re away as well. Another good option is to look at some long-lasting treats and toys, such as stuffing something like peanut butter into a classic big ole Red Kong or giving them a bone to gnaw on while you’re gone – distraction is sometimes the best way to deal with things like this for your sweet pups.
Second of all, some of us may scream and get all excited when seeing our dogs after being gone for quite some time; however, since your pups may interpret you coming back as a big ole deal, acting calm and sweet and confident will leave your dog more reassured, especially since they look to you for care, guidance, help, and happiness and reassurance.
If your dog needs more reassurance than this, then the AKC does recommend to have some calm practice sessions. This means that to try leaving your dog alone for a small period of time and before leaving them in full-force, try slowly and slightly increasing the time that you leave them gradually. If this doesn’t work, some may turn to a certified behavior expert or trainer instead.
Since we’ve been doing nothing but talking about what could be wrong with our dogs, let’s talk about the silver lining of this all!
Dog separation anxiety is highly treatable and easy to deal with for everyone (dogs and humans included)! They will start to feel calmer right away, their confidence will be built, they will feel more comfortable being alone for (different) periods of time, and they will also have heightened senses of patience, practice, and just a little more love.
How does your dog experience separation anxiety? If they do, what have you tried that’s helped? Let’s help and all chat with each other down below! And as always….Woof, Woof!