Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety?
Let’s picture this: you are about to leave your house, you make sure your dog has enough water, you grab your coat and your dog starts barking. You swear him you’ll be back soon and you throw a toy at him to make sure he is entertained, but he is still barking when you leave. A couple of hours later, you come back to find your dog has ripped up part of your carpet and did his business inside.
If the former is a common scenario of your everyday life, your dog probably suffers from separation anxiety.
Separation related behavior
Separation anxiety is an issue many dogs undergo. Often, people refer to separation anxiety to talk about separation related behavior (SRB). It basically means your dog gets super stressed out when you leave your house and he is left alone. This stress can lead to excessive barking and howling, destructive behavior, urinating or defecating, and even escaping.
You can probably know if your dog suffers from SRB just by checking his behavior when you are around: if he follows you everywhere and he’s like your shadow, he is probably having some trouble being alone.
‘What is Separation Related Behavior (SRB)? The stress and anxiety dogs feel when they are separated from their owner or left alone’
Besides, during the quarantine, dogs have spent all day with their owners. They were used to be around you all the time, which made this problem even worse.
How to make separation anxiety better
- Never punish your dog. This is a very common mistake: even if your dog does something wrong, scolding him is not the answer. Dogs are completely different from us humans, and they simply don’t understand what is happening and get super scared, so avoid this practice.
- Always be discrete when leaving your home. If your dog starts barking or crying and you reinforce this behavior by petting him, talking, or treating him, he will notice you are sad or worried, and it will only be worse. The same applies when you return home.
- Leave your dog with clothes that have your smell. It works as a security blanket: if your dog is feeling anxious or worried, he will find comfort in it.
- Get him calming support. If your dog is suffering from severe anxiety, hemp calming treats can help him deal with stress by providing natural support.
- Make sure to have long walks with him every day. This may seem obvious but dogs have lots of energy and they need to consume it properly. If your dog only walks 1 mile a day, he will probably have a lot of stocked energy and he will release it when you are gone.
- Give him a puzzle toy. You can get it in a dog store or an online pet shop. This will keep him entertained and motivated while you are gone. As he will be busy, he presumably won’t rip any part of your house.
Improving separation anxiety
‘Every time you leave your house, your dog does his business inside and tear things apart? Then he suffers from SRB. To release his anxiety, don’t make a fuzz about leaving, get him puzzle toys, take long walks with him and leave him clothes that have your smell on.’
If you have already tried every item on the list and it didn’t get better, then you should probably consider training your dog as his anxiety may be severe. As a dog owner, I know separation anxiety can be really upsetting and nerve-racking for humans. Try to be patient, your dog is simply trying to cope with your absence. Especially in these odd times, just like the rest of us, he is doing his best!