When kids and teachers head back to school in the fall, this can have a surprisingly strong effect on their pets, especially dogs.
Worry can set in when your dog finds themselves alone and in a much quieter environment than before. While some companion animals can tolerate prolonged family absences just fine, others may develop mild to severe separation anxiety, which can produce behaviors ranging from the mildly annoying to the potentially destructive. If your pet is displaying difficult behaviors when you and/or members of your family leave the house, you should contact your veterinarian so we can help you figure out how to resolve the problem.
Call our hospital at (205) 884-4104 today or request an appointment online!
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Pets
Some of the most common signs of dog separation anxiety include:
- Having accidents in the house
- Acting clingy
- Chewing on furniture, doorways, etc.
- Pacing around
- Escaping or attempting to escape
Is It Separation Anxiety or Something Else?
First, never punish your pet if they’re engaging in any of the behaviors listed above. While they could be experiencing separation anxiety, it’s also possible that they have an underlying health issue that is driving their behaviors. Other potential causes can include boredom, urine marking (if your pet has not been spayed or neutered), and insufficient training.
Therefore, we’ll need to see your pet for an exam and possible diagnostic work-ups to rule out any health problems. Be sure to note down what kind of behaviors you’re observing at home with your pet, when they happen, and how frequently they are taking place. This information can prove valuable and get us closer to figuring out if your pet is anxious, bored, feeling unwell, or being guided by their hormones.
Ways to Reduce Dog Separation Anxiety
- It might take a multifaceted approach to help your pet feel more at ease when you and your family are gone for the day. Here are some possible solutions:
- Take the excitement out of arrivals and departures–don’t make a big deal out of coming and going; give your dog a pat on the head and then ignore them for a bit until they calm down.
- Keep recently worn clothes or a recently used blanket around for your pet to snuggle with so they’ll have your scent.
- Give your pet a treat or treat toy to play with right before you leave.
- Look into getting over-the-counter, natural calming supplements to help your pet relax (ask us for recommendations).
- Set up a food puzzle for your pet, or hide kibble or treats around the house for them to find.
- Arrange to have a friend or dog sitter stay with your pet while everyone is away.
- Get Dog TV (or Cat TV) to provide your pet with visual enrichment.
- If you can, consider enrolling your pet in dog daycare.
- Make sure your pet gets lots of exercise/activity (at least 30 minutes a day), particularly before you leave.
- Your dog might need additional training. Look into signing them up for training classes in your area.