Don’t Cry, Doggo: Dealing With Your Pet’s Separation Anxiety
Over the years, your dog has likely developed a close relationship with the member(s) of the household. That closeness can trigger big emotions for your furry friend when you leave! On occasion, this discomfort can grow into something more pronounced: separation anxiety, which causes nervousness for your pet even if your absence is brief.
What Is the Cause?
Separation anxiety is often triggered by a substantial change in your dog’s environment. Like us, dogs are creatures of habit. A new schedule or routine, or something as significant as relocating cross-country can make our furry companions a little nervous. If your pet did not previously experience anxiety during your absence, these new nervous behaviors are likely connected to the change in the status quo.
What Are the Signs?
Pets experiencing minor or major separation anxiety typically begin exhibiting signs of it immediately before and after your departure from home. In many cases, excessive barking and howling will begin quickly, and may be followed by destructive behavior while you are away. Further, another symptom of pets with separation anxiety is urinate or defecating while their guardian is absent. In cases of severe separation anxiety, pets may conduct increasingly desperate and dangerous escape attempts, which can lead to accidents and bodily harm.
While many of these symptoms occur individually for a number of reasons, these symptoms happening exclusively during your absence are the hallmark of an overly anxious pup.
What Is the Treatment?
Separation anxiety can be stressful for both you and your pet. By building their confidence and finding activities they love, your pet is sure to feel less uncertain when you leave.
There are several methods for soothing separation anxiety. First, consider offering your pet a tasty chew that helps manage their stress. Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb that gently reduces cortisol levels and regulates the brain’s emotional response which may be suitable to help mitigate separation anxiety.
Next, a process called “counterconditioning” may begin to build your dog’s confidence. Simply put, counterconditioning uses time and repetition to create a positive association with your leaving the house. In minor cases of anxiety, try leaving your dog a puzzle with a hidden treat inside each time you leave.
Pro tip: use Primal Pets CBD Oil for rapid calming during longer trips out the door. This helps them to build routines and develop a more positive association with your pending departure. In more severe cases of anxiety, counterconditioning can be a much more gradual, involved approach, requiring professional guidance, an organized schedule, and possibly the use of a dog crate in providing a safe space for your pup.
If you need help in addressing these more acute instances of separation anxiety, you should seek out the help of a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB), a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB), or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). When in doubt, you can ask your local vet for recommendations or contact information.