Due to the COVID pandemic, a majority of us have been spending a lot more time at home. Because of this, there is a chance that your dog has been enjoying you constantly being at their beck and call, but gets very upset when you do make a departure. Your pooch may be exhibiting behaviors like pacing, whining, chewing on furniture, and urinating. They may have also accidentally put themselves in harm's way by attempting to run away.
If you have been noticing these behaviors, your precious pup is likely to have separation anxiety. According to WebMD Pet Health Center, this “is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from their guardians, the people they’re attached to.” It’s worth noting that separation anxiety is a relatively commonplace occurrence among our canine companions with approximately “[t]wenty to 40 percent of dogs presented to veterinary behavioral specialists suffering from this disorder,” as reported by the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.
Canine separation anxiety can be caused by a variety of reasons, including going to a new home, having a new main caregiver, and as previously mentioned, having their owners go somewhere without them when they are typically always together.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to help treat your dog’s separation anxiety. Start by contacting your local veterinarian and set an appointment to see if your dog has an underlying health issue that may be affecting their behavior. If everything seems to be physically okay, there are a few training methods you may want to consider.
Prior to your departure, try tuckering out your dog. Take them on a brisk half-hour walk or play a game of fetch. You could also give them a puzzle toy, so that your pup has something to focus on until you return home.
For more “moderate or severe cases,” the ASPCA suggests “to gradually accustom a dog to being alone by starting with many short separations that do not produce anxiety and then gradually increasing the duration of the separations over many weeks of daily sessions.” For instance, you could start the process by making it a ritual to grab all the belongings you would for a regular outing but then go to a different room away from your dog with the door shut for a few minutes.
If your pup’s condition does not improve, it may be in your best interest to hire a dog behavioral specialist and discuss the possibility of putting your dog on an anti-anxiety medication with your vet.
image courtesy of the farmers dog