Having a dog means that you are going to spend the next decade of your life with a best friend by your side. You’ll want to snuggle up and watch movies together, go hiking when the weather is nice and even dress up for Halloween in matching costumes. Dogs bring so much joy to the lives of their owners that it’s easy to panic when they’re anything but happy.
For a lot of dogs, they’re most upset when their owner leaves them alone. They have the mentality of a pack animal, which means they love spending all their time with others. When you’re their pack leader that means you! Leaving your dog so you can go to work is inevitable, and some dogs are able to handle it better than others. If your dog isn’t part of that group, you’ll quickly learn all about separation anxiety in dogs.
Whining, barking and tearing household objects up are all signs of increased anxiety when your dog is by itself. This can be bothersome to neighbors who want some peace and quiet, and it can also cause you to feel more worried at work. Ease the separation anxiety felt by both you and your dog by helping your four-legged pal out with some easy tips. With time, they’ll learn that it’s okay to be on their own for a bit, because they’ll know you’ll always come back home.
- Take a Morning Walk
The first thing you should do in the morning is feed your dog, and the second is to take them out for a walk. This gets their bowels moving so they’re less likely to make a mess while you’re at work, plus they’ll use up a lot of that morning energy they typically devote to barking and whining. Not a morning person? Try to make some easy and energizing breakfast recipes so you’re ready to hold your own while walking your dog in the morning.
- Focus on Your Energy
Have you ever wondered why sometimes your dog knows when to come over and help you when you’re sad compared to wanting to play when you’re happy? It’s because dogs are excellent at tuning into the energy people give out. As you’re leaving for work in the morning, don’t let your nerves show. Give your dog a quick kiss on the head and let them know you’ll be back later, then head out the door. Your confident energy will keep them more relaxed as they transition into time on their own.
- Start Crate Training Early
Anxiety separation is seen all the time with puppies, since they haven’t had time to get used to your daily routine. Knowing how to deal with puppy separation anxiety is much easier if you start crate training early. A crate will give your dog a safe place to relax and hang out while you’re away. Start this training off by leaving them with a treat that will last a while after you leave, like a treat tucked away inside a bone. They’ll love working away at it so much that they won’t notice you’re gone.
- Leave Your Dog in Intervals
This may be more challenging than other options, but leaving your dog in gradually longer intervals will cause them to grow more comfortable with being alone faster. They’ll quickly learn that you always come back, so as you leave them for longer periods of time, they won’t panic as much as before. Try starting this on the weekends by leaving them at home while you go to the grocery store, and then make trips longer by visiting places like the mall or the movies.
- Prevent Perpetual Silence
One reason your dog may suffer from anxiety is because when you’re gone, they’re left in silence. It’s hard to cheer up when the silence around you just confirms how alone you are! Before you head out to work, set up a good TV channel to watch that’ll be pleasant background noise, or play music on your laptop or start up an audiobook. As long as they aren’t being excited by something like animal sounds from a nature show, they’ll feel more calmed and at peace when you leave the house.
It’s heartbreaking to know that when your dog is at home alone, all they feel is sadness. You want to be there for them, but it’s not possible all the time. There are some good ways to teach your dog to cope with separation better by doing things like crate training and leaving music playing. Try some of these tips on your dog the next time you leave them alone and see what works best. Eventually your dog will be fine during the day, and so will you!
Emily is an avid pet lover and blogger. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.