It's the dreaded phrase no pet parent wants to hear...but it happens all the time!!
Separation anxiety In pets is pretty straightforward. Just like kids, pets like to be near their humans and can get nervous or react when their humans leave the house. This can often look show up in numerous forms like howling, barking, whining, clawing, chewing, etc...
During Covid-19, animal shelters and rescues are seeing adoption numbers they’ve never seen before! It’s amazing news and has helped many home and families feel more complete!
That said, in preparation for when we do return to work, it’s vital we, pet parents, start training our new pets to be calm when we aren’t around (like we have been during quarantine).
Here are a few tips:
1- Stick to a strict schedule and go through the motions as if you’re going to work. Wake up, feed your pet, give them plenty of exercise and then pretend you’re going to work. Leave them alone in the house for a few minutes, multiple times a day. Start with just a couple minutes and work up to longer stretches. This will teach your pet that being home alone isn’t a bad thing and that Mom and Dad will return.
2- Always remember to be cool, calm and collected when you leave home and return home. Making your exit and entrance a big deal can trigger your dog’s anxiety. Just act like you’re going to grab the mail! 3- Create distance between you and your dog even when you ARE HOME! Your dog should not be allowed to follow you 24/7 if they suffer from separation anxiety. This will only make the problem worse. Start by creating a “space” for your dog. It can be a dog bed, a crate, a pen, etc… Place your pet in its space and use an audible correction when they attempt to leave and return them to their “space” immediately. As they start to realize they need to stay in place, you can slowly work on backing away. As they get better at staying, try going into another room, sitting on the couch, etc… The goal is for your dog to stay in its “space” until you give them the command to come out. Again, start small and do this for just a few minutes, multiple times a day. Keep the sessions short, fun and full of praise or treats. This is a great way for you to bond with your pet and should always be a positive and happy experience.
4- Utilize products! There are some amazing products on the market that can help with separation anxiety. A couple of my favorites are Kong treat dispensers and the RelaxoPet Pro Dog Relaxation Device.
Kong toys enable you to stuff treats inside and make your dog work at them to get the treats out! It stimulates them physically and mentally and acts as a great distraction.
The RelaxoPet Pro is a wireless speaker that detects your dog’s noises and anxiety levels. It will automatically turn on and emit a calming frequency to relax your pets. You can also use a function that emits soft, calming music audible to humans AND dogs.
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IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: Never leave your pet alone with toys that they can tear apart. This can lead to choking, obstructions and even death. Always supervise your pets with any products they can break apart and search for highly indestructible toys for added safety.