Over the last few months COVID 19 has most of us working from home and some furloughed where we all have spent a lot of time with our dogs more than we have ever before. As businesses start to reopen and our daily routines start going back to our normal, many people are noticing their dogs are starting to exhibit behaviors associated with Separation Anxiety.
Separation anxiety can develop when a dog is hyper-attached to his or her owner and become stressed when they are left alone. Some are howling, whining, or becoming destructive. Some may be urinating or defecating inappropriately. These behaviors can create havoc in our household and many items can get destroyed, or injuries can occur, and this is incredibly stressful on our fur friends. Stress is not good for anyone but there are steps you can take to help ease our pups back into a routine where we may be away for hours at a time and help them not feel stressed.
Here are a few tips to help with Separation Anxiety:
- A Happy Dog is a Tired Dog. Exercise!! Take your dog for a walk, play ball, or march around indoors to get off some steam. Yes, this means you may have to get up 30-60 minutes earlier, but exercise is good for everyone. If you have an older or injured dog, this may be limited or in a slower fashion. Be mindful.
- A Happy Dog has a Full Belly. Feed your dog right before you leave, and/or leave a yummy long-lasting treat. I like to freeze some of my dogs’ regular food in a Kong and it give it too them right before I leave. The frozen treat takes longer to eat. Be sure not to add extra food or calories, as keeping a healthy weight is especially important.
- Make It BORING!! Don’t talk to, touch, or have eye contact before you leave. Make it just a simple quiet confident walk out the door. When you return, do the same thing. DO NOT make it a PARTY!! Use your OMMMM, and relax and make it no big deal. Slip on the leash go outside so there are no accidents. Let nature take its course, then you can celebrate and have fun and do some more exercising.
- Communicate Calmly. Explain while you are getting breakfast ready, that you will be leaving after you feed him. Tell your dog that you must go to work and that you will be back later, and you will miss him. I like to give my dogs jobs when I leave. My dog Vixie Elizabeth oversees the red ball, her bone, and her dog bed. I tell her to take care of those things. My other dog Olive Oil oversees holding down the couch and her bone. That way they both have a job, and their toys. I do this while preparing the food-not right before you leave. Communication is important, just time it so it is not the last thing you say before you walk out the door.
- Soothe Through Sound. Turn on the TV, some music, or an audio book. There are many interactive toys that can help as well. Relaxing Dog music can be downloaded, or you can even read a book to your dog and tape your voice. So many options are available.
- Just Part of The Daily Routine. When you leave do not have regret or guilt!! Leave with confidence and a smile. You are the Pack Leader. I like to be the best Yogi I can be. By standing tall and walking strong I am leading with confidence. Don’t look back or say that last goodbye. Say to yourself, “I gave my dog a job, and I am going to my job.”
- Seek professional advice. If your dog’s separation anxiety is causing harm reach out to your veterinarian or a trainer. I give consultations all the time to help people deal with separation anxiety. You can book a virtual consultation through my website. I have many recommendations for herbs, nutraceuticals, and only in extreme cases medications. As a Veterinary Acupuncturist and Holistic Veterinarian, I try to use the most natural effective way to help with separation anxiety.
My dog Olive Oil taught me more about separation anxiety than any seminar or book I every read. Olive she came to me with many issues after being in foster care for 2 years. Her neurosis was extreme. She tried to chew her way out of a metal crate, as well as my Subaru. She jumped a 7 foot fence. Through exercise, diet, mindfulness, and supplements, I was able to comfort her and soothe her anxieties. She learned to hold down the couch, so she had a job for the day. I used JillandJoan.com Hemp Extracts as a supplement to help her adjust. Her PTSD was extreme, but through training and love we have created a happy house, even when I leave.