All Creatures Veterinary Center – Helping Your Dog With Separation Anxiety
There is little worse than having a pooch with separation anxiety, and this is what happened to me last year, when I got my young maltese. The issue we had was that I often worked home office so Max was used to me being there, then when I started to go back to the office on more days, he would scratch the doors, bit the door handles and generally go a bit crazy in my absence. Not only was the damage expensive for me, I was seriously worried about the dog as well, that he may do damage to his teeth or something worse. I reached out to my local vets, the All Creatures Veterinary Center, who gave me some great tips on helping Max get out of this anxiety. It tried them all and slowly but surely they worked, if you have a similar situation, give these a try.
The first step is to try and get your dog used to being without you, and you can do this whilst you are still in the house. Simply put your dog in a room and close the door, start off doing this for 15 minutes at a time, and then up the time to 30 minutes, until you get to around an hour or two. The point of this is teaching your dog to be on its own and to feel comfortable in its own company.
In order to normalize leaving and arriving home, it is important that you don’t make any grand gestures when you do this. Don’t give your dog the big goodbye, nor give it a huge hello when you eventually do arrive. When you arrive home leave it 15 minutes before saying hello to your dog, and when you leave simply slip out of the door. In doing this you are greatly normalizing the way that you come and go so that the dog will be more used to it.
Easily one of the best ideas that the team at the vets gave me was to buy a certain chew toy where you put treats inside it, what happens is that as the dog plays with the toy and bites it, a treat will pop out gradually. Max takes around 35 minutes to get all of the treats out of the toy, and that is what I give him each time that I leave the house. They say that the dog’s biggest issue is that first bit after you leave, that is when they cause most damage. What this chew toy does is ensure that the first 20 minutes are taken care of and that is going to leave your dog feeling much calmer about you not being there.
Separation anxiety isn’t very good for you dog, and these tips won’t always work, but give them a try with your four-legged friend and see if it helps calm them down a little when you’re not there.