When the Dog Parents Are Away
While the pandemic was in full force, people worked from home in higher numbers than ever before. Now, many are back to working outside of the home, in the office. We’re not sure how you feel about that transition, but we can assure you that your dog would prefer you to be at home. How can you ease your pup into this big change?
Separation Anxiety is Real
Perhaps it helps to understand where separation anxiety with dogs originates. This Humane Society article described it well: “Remember, your dog’s behaviors are part of a panic response. Your dog isn’t trying to punish you! They just want you to come home!” Once you recognize where these behaviors are coming from, it’s easier to have compassion and start to comprehend how to help with dog anxiety.
We’ve Got You Covered
So, how can you help your dog with separation anxiety? We have compiled a few resources to keep your pup content while you’re away. The two articles and video we’ve linked below provide both step-by-step instructions to train your dog to manage your time away with less stress and specific activities to help your pup stay occupied and more relaxed.
Keep Your Pup Calm
This article from ASPCA gives helpful suggestions to keep your anxious dog occupied while you’re away from home to minimize separation anxiety. You can make your time away fun for your pup by hiding little patches of food for her to find or playing a game of fetch before you need to leave. The ASPCA also suggested leaving puzzle games your dog must solve before he can have his treat or food. This Rover post lists 19 of the top-rated puzzle toys, if you need recommendations.
Provide Some Comfort
Need even more suggestions? The most anxious of pups could use all the help, right? The Humane Society article also offers the excellent idea of leaving a recently worn shirt with your dog. For conditioning, find a word or action to reiterate every time you leave to let him know you’ll be back. As a last resort, you can try medication—but discuss this choice with your veterinarian.
Advice From the Dog Whisperer
In this video, Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisperer, explains how separation anxiety might trace back to a dog’s natural habitat and how you can gently train your dog to manage it. Spoiler alert: since dogs are animals that used to live in packs, they want companionship. With some slow and steady training—starting with just seconds, moving on to minutes and then hours, you can train your dog with anxiety to tolerate your absence a bit more calmly. Watch the video to learn how to gently guide your dog through the process.
Try a Little Tenderness
There is a lot of advice on what to do, but some pretty clear information on what not to do. ASPCA states, “Do not scold or punish your dog. Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses! Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.” So, be gentle with your pup and be patient with the process. It is not easy for either of you.