5 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
It’s so sad when our humans have to leave us at home all by ourselves. We don’t like being alone, and we just miss them so much! Because of this, lots of dogs suffer from separation anxiety, making it harder for them to be alone for long periods of time.
How to Tell if Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a common behavioral issue for dogs. It often happens when dogs have a change in routine or lifestyle. However, every dog is different, so separation anxiety could be different for every dog.
Here are some common signs that a dog has separation anxiety:
#1 – They Destroy Things
If your dog is normally well-behaved while you’re home, but as soon as you leave, they start misbehaving, this could be a sign of separation anxiety. If your dog is anxious while they’re home alone, they might get into things they shouldn’t, which could end with them ripping up your shoes, pillows, or furniture.
As mad as you might be, it is important not to punish your dog for these destructive behaviors. It will only confuse them and not lead to any improvements.
#2 – They Have Accidents
Dogs with separation anxiety are also more likely to have accidents while they are away from you. Even if your dog never goes to the bathroom inside, it could be a nervous habit that they experience while you’re gone.
Many dogs will feel bad after doing this because they know they’re not supposed to. Some dogs will even try to find a way to clean it up to the best of their abilities. So, this is another behavior that you shouldn’t punish your dog for, especially if you know they are feeling anxious while you’re away.
#3 – They Bark More Often
Most dogs bark now and then, but if your dog has separation anxiety, you might notice them barking or howling more, especially as soon as you leave their sight. This is another nervous behavior that should not be punished.
#4 – They Experience an Unusual Pacing
Obviously, this is a behavior that you will not notice if you are away, but if you have a security camera or if someone else is watching your dog, you might be able to learn that your dog has been pacing. If they have separation anxiety, this is likely something that they will experience only when they are alone or not with you.
How Can You Help Them?
If you suspect that your dog has separation anxiety, there’s no need to fear. There are plenty of different ways that you can help your dog feel more comfortable on their own.
#1 – Make Sure They Have Plenty of Things That Smell Like You
Even when I’m with Molly, I love sleeping on things that smell like her such as her clothes or blankets. It helps me to feel safe and more comfortable. So, when a dog has separation anxiety, make sure they have access to a comfortable spot that smells like you.
It might sound odd, but you can leave some of your dirty clothes on the ground for them to nap on or something similar. This will help your dog to feel more comfortable knowing that they can still smell you.
#2 – Give Them a Toy or Treat to Keep Them Busy
Try giving your dog a delicious chew before you leave or a toy that’s stuffed with treats. These types of items can keep dogs busy and entertained, which will take their minds off the fact that you’re gone. Sitting alone all day can be lonely, so we like to be given some way to keep us entertained and busy during that time.
#3 – Walk Your Dog Before Right You Leave
Of course, you should always walk your dog before you leave to make sure they go to the bathroom, but it is also important to help get some of their energy out. If you have time, take them for a longer walk so that they will be tired when you have to go. That way, even though they will still miss you, they will be able to take a well-deserved nap.
#4 – Don’t Make a Big Deal When You Leave and Come Back
It can be difficult for dog parents not to say bye a million times before they leave, but this just draws more attention to the fact that you will be gone. The same goes for when you come home, but of course, make sure you give us plenty of love after being gone for a long period of time!
When you leave, you should always say a ‘safe’ word that lets your dog know that you’ll be back. It can be as obvious as “I’ll be back” or it can be something totally different. As long as you repeat it every time you leave and come back, your dog will eventually be able to associate it with the fact that you’re not leaving forever.
#5 – Try Working with a Dog Trainer
Some dogs can be more difficult than others, so if you’ve tried everything, it might be time to get the help of an expert. There are dog trainers that have expertise in all different areas of dog training, so there are some that will be able to specifically help you with behavior aspects such as separation anxiety.
If you’re worried that your dog has separation anxiety, don’t hesitate to try helping them in any way possible. It’s no fun for them if they have to sit at home worrying all the time, so the sooner you can help them understand that everything is going to be okay, the better.
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