After spending a great deal of time with our pups during the pandemic, some of them might have developed a bit of separation anxiety as we returned to work, school and other activities away from home. Keeping them calm while you're gone is important for their overall health. Here are some tips on how you can keep a calm environment at home for your furry friend:
First, it’s important to be able to recognize signs of developing separation anxiety in our dogs. Some may start to destroy furniture or scratch at doors. Attempting to dig or chew through doors after you leave indicates that your pup is trying to escape from where you left them. An increase in barking or howling (for no good reason) is also a sign of separation anxiety. The most common signs are accidents or vomiting in the house while home alone when they normally don’t.
Having a space where your dog can go to relax while you're gone will help alleviate some anxiety. Even if your dog is not suffering with anxiety, creating a space for them to relax alone is reassuring for them. Choosing a space with no windows can take the pressure off your pup as they won’t feel the need to bark at outdoor distractions. Leaving them in this space with their favorite toys, a bed, and a full water bowl will let them feel comfortable and at ease.
Creating a stable routine for your pup can be beneficial for calming their anxieties. If it’s possible, walks, play time, mealtime, and sleep should happen at around the same time every day. By doing so, this creates a familiar pattern to know when all their needs will be met. Fun fact … routines can also aid in housetraining and preventing weight gain!
When your pup has too much energy, this may add to their distress when you leave the house. This can lead to clawing at furniture or getting into things they shouldn’t be. Making sure they stay active is a key component in reducing their separation anxiety. How much exercise should your dog be getting? Start with at least one long walk per day and let them run around outside, too! Hiding treats around the house for them to find when you leave is also a great way to keep your dog active while they’re alone.
Making a lowkey exit can help your dog feel more calm about your leaving. Your dog notices when you put your shoes on or grab your wallet before you’re about to leave and this can get them worked up. Try to switch up your routine when getting ready to head out so they are unaware what is about to happen next. You can also try giving your furry friend a special treat before you leave to keep them occupied as you head out the door!
Just as we like to feel as relaxed as possible in our own house, our dogs are another member of our home and deserve to feel just as calm and comfortable in it, too. Anything that you can do to help your dog through these changing and uncertain times will benefit both of your lives. Try your best to keep these tips in mind on a daily basis to have your home be a safe space for all!