Dogs are loyal and happy animals. Walk through the front door of your house after a hard day’s work, and your furry friend will be more than ready to greet you. Tail wagging, barking, spinning, and jumping, he is excited to see you back home.
Do you have any idea of what happens to your dog while you are away? Your neighbors may have told you stories of your pup barking, howling, or whining throughout the day while you were away. If this is the case, your four-legged companion could suffer from dog separation anxiety.
In the wild, dogs always travel and stay with a pack. Even centuries of domestication have not eliminated this behavior. In the eyes of your mutt, you are his pack, and he misses you every time you are away.
Knowing how to deal with the symptoms of separation anxiety goes a long way. It’s not just for when you leave home for a few hours each day to go to work, or for an afternoon or evening to eat out or catch a movie. By teaching your pup how to effectively handle the time he spends on his own, you can soon go on a vacation or business trip lasting a few days without worrying about your dog.
Experts on dog boarding in Abu Dhabi share a few tips on easing your dog’s separation anxiety when you’re out of the house for the day…
1. Go for a walk together before you leave
Give your dog her exercise before you go by taking her out for a walk around the block or the nearby park. The objective is to leave while Fido is resting. By doing it this way, your dog won’t miss your presence as much, and you can quietly make your exit while he is resting.
Depending on the schedule you have established, you may choose to feed your dog before or after the walk. Either way, your pooch may need to rest before getting to the next activity. Just don’t forget to give your dog enough water to keep him hydrated, and remember to take him out to do his business before you leave.
2. Don’t say goodbye
The goal is to make leaving the house seem like a routine occurrence. In some cases, it’s our behavior as the owner that triggers the anxiety. As much as possible, avoid touching, talking, or making eye contact at least five minutes right before you leave and up to an hour after you get back.
It can be tricky not making any physical contact with your pup right before exiting the house or after coming home. The best you can do is to make your movements as low-key as possible.
In more extreme cases, your pup knows your routine well enough that even specific movements can trigger anxiety. Your dog might start acting up once you start picking up your coat, putting on your shoes, or grabbing your keys. So what you can do is to mix up your routine.
Instead of leaving right away, maybe you can watch TV after getting your keys and coat. By doing so, you are making your movements less predictable. Your dog won’t automatically assume that you are leaving.
Alternatively, you can go into a room and disappear for a few seconds, then reappear. Then, slowly increase the amount of time during which you disappear from his sight. What you want to do is to get your pup used to not seeing you all the time.
3. Create a calm environment
A dog’s sense of smell is more sensitive than a human’s. Some canine pets take comfort just by having their owner’s scent nearby. You can use this to alleviate your dog’s stress.
Leave a worn shirt or a piece of clothing that you’ve worn recently and haven’t washed. The smell of your skin on the shirt can help ease some of the anxiety your pup might be feeling. You can also use some natural calming supplements.
Before you leave, you can also give your pooch a toy or a stuffed treat. Similar to taking your dog out for a walk, this will keep your pup busy and preoccupied. You can take away the toy or treat some time after you return.
By offering toys and treats before you leave, you are changing the way your pet sees the event of your departure. Instead of creating anxiety, your pet will think of your trip as a positive thing as he will get his favorite toy or treat while you are away. You can readily buy dog toys online or from a nearby shop and see which one your pup enjoys.
4. Provide space
Even pack animals need their space. Giving him space teaches him to be independent and how to have fun even when by himself. One way of doing so is by giving him a dog bed.
Let him sleep in his own bed rather than yours. It may be difficult at first, but establishing a bit of distance, even while at home, will be beneficial in easing his anxiety.
Keep in mind that the training process takes time. You may need to follow these tips and instructions for a few weeks before you observe any progress.
If you need to leave for more than a day, consider other alternatives. Ask a relative, friend, or neighbor to look in once in a while, hire a sitter, or take your pup to a boarding facility to ensure your pet is well taken care of while you are away.