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Dog Separation Anxiety and How to Minimize It

Dog laying on bed with owner

 

Over the past few months, many of our routines have drastically changed. Daily walks around the neighborhood, frequent belly rubs, and endless snuggles might sound like the current relationship you have with your dog. One question you might be wondering is, “How is my dog going to behave when I have to return to work?” Our pups thrive on daily structure and here are some ways to help your dog ease into your new schedule and reduce symptoms of separation anxiety.

1. Practice Leaving and Returning

See how your dog behaves when you leave the house and return. Walk out the door as if your leaving; grab your keys, lock the door, or open and close the garage to signal you have left. Wait 5-10 minutes, staying silent before you come back in. How did they do? Did you hear whining, barking, howling, and/or scratching at the door? When you come back in, stay calm and praise your dog positively for being on their own. If they showed signs of separation anxiety, practice leaving your pup at home for only brief amounts of time at first. Limit absences to be shorter than the amount of time it takes for pets to react negatively. Eventually you will be able to increase your away time and practice longer absences making sure to always praise them when returning. For some dogs, leaving the radio or TV on can provide background noise and peace of mind.

2. Use a Safe Phrase

Many dogs experience separation anxiety because they feel like you will never be coming back. Consider using a “safe” phrase to establish your intent to return. Each time you leave for any reason, look at your pup and say a phrase like “I’ll be back.” After time, that phrase will provide your dog with reassurance that you will be returning home.

3. Create a Positive Experience

One way you can create a positive association with your departure is by incorporating a treat! Giving them a small healthy treat, like our Calm Pup soft chews, can offset feelings of separation anxiety. Not only are you reframing the departure as a positive experience, you are providing them with an all-natural way to reduce their anxiety – bonus!

4. Recreate a Routine

Has your daily routine changed? If it has, it is a good idea to get your pup back on the same schedule before you began working from home. If you have been feeding or walking your dog at random times during the day, start implementing a regular schedule to get your dog back in sync with your normal working hours. Another method that may be beneficial is to put your pet in a separate room for a couple of hours away from the rest of the family so they can get acclimated to not having you around.

As with any recommendation, it’s best to ease your pet into anything new.

We suggest starting these practices a few weeks before heading back to work if possible. Leaving your dog at home can be no fun, but with some time and practice, time apart can be a little less stressful and more enjoyable for both dog and owner!