We would love to be able to take our dogs with us wherever we went, but unfortunately that is not the case! Sometimes we will have to leave our friends at home while we go out and unfortunately some dogs will experience separation anxiety when we do. Separation anxiety can vary in the levels at which a dog will experience distress, some dogs are happy to be left alone for short periods, whereas others may not wish to be left for any period of time and will howl and cry. As owners, we do our very best to minimise upset in our dogs, and here are some ideas to help manage separation anxiety , if your dog suffers from distress when you leave him or her.
Why do dogs experience separation anxiety?
Dogs are naturally social creatures. In the wild, they would travel in packs and would have a role and place in the hierarchy. When you get a dog, you start an amazing bond. However, this is why dogs can’t understand why you would leave them and this can lead to your dog acting out and causing anti-social behaviour, or becoming distressed.
What happens when dogs experience separation anxiety?
Even before you leave the house, if the dog knows you are preparing to go, he/she may get depressed and start barking, whining, defecate/urinate in the house, destroy things he/she may not normally mess with like furniture, and more. This may continue until you come back to the house, in which your furry friend ay be overly excited to see you again and take their time calming down. Other dogs may not start to react until left alone, some may howl or become stressed. In some instances this can continue upon the owner's return and lead to depression, with lack of appetite, withdrawal from interactions or general change in personality.
What can be done about it?
There are a few things you can do to help manage separation anxiety in dogs, but all dogs are different and it is a matter of trying new things to see what works best. Try leaving the television or radio on while you leave the house, as a little background noise may be soothing. You could also give a command like “sit” or “stay” because this tells the dog you are coming back. Make sure your dog has a lot of attention and playtime while you are at home so they are not bored, and before you leave the house, bring them to their bed or crate with plenty of their toys. This makes alone time a relaxing one after getting out all that energy. A really great idea is to hide your dog's favourite Barker and Barker treats in toys and balls when you go out to keep her occupied while you are out.
If you are finding your dog is becoming very upset but you need to go out regularly (for your work for example!), you could find a local dog sitter or doggy day care centre where he or she can go and interact with other dogs, they are a great idea for helping out! You may also find that it is worth considering a companion - this may not need to be another dog, some will get on with a cat or even a budgie!
As always, if you are concerned we do recommend consulting your vet as your dog may need a little extra support.
Posted On: 31/08/2017