I receive lots of questions from owners but one of the top ones is ‘How do I stop my dog’s separation anxiety?’ Follow this guide to get great results!
With most of the UK returning to the ‘New’ normal, our dogs are going to be spending longer than they have in months on their own. Inevitably there will be an increase in dogs separation anxiety.
A dog’s separation anxiety can be debilitating, they can bark, howl, become totally shut down or destructive and it is not fair on them to have to suffer so having been through this with my dog Poppy recently, I have decided to tell you what I did to overcome the problem and create a calm dog.
Preparing to resolve your dog’s separation anxiety
Portion out the dogs food to the number of toys you will be issuing during the day. Dry food can either be given soaked or whole with Peanut butter or soft cheese or Kong Liver in the end to act as a bung. In hot weather you can freeze the food toy so that it also cools the dog down.
If you only feed your dog in a toy they will become satiated and occupied for longer when you feed them. Also feed them when you are about to go out or you are going to be out of the room for a period of time.
When you feed them via the toy put on some soft music – I normally use Classic FM as I find that the mix of soft voices talking and the music relax the dog so they remain calmer.
Always make sure you leave your dog with plenty of fresh drinking water.
A really lovely thing to have is a Furbo, this is a camera that you can communicate with your dog when you are away. It has a bark sensor that sends notifications to your phone and you can distribute treats via the Furbo. It is a nice to have but does give you peace of mind.
If your dog is happy being contained in a crate then ensure they have something in there that smells of you, whether that be an old t-shirt or duvet cover.
When working on stopping my own dogs separation anxiety, I have tried multiple methods to see what works and I have found that confining them to one room in the house is the best method of keeping them happy when I am out.
Leaving your dog
When you first leave your dog try to not make it a big deal – If you have already done your preparation you will be able to leave the dog with their food toy and soft music. Initially leave them for a maximum of an hour or shorter if you are able.
If you are using a Furbo you will be able to check in on them and talk to them periodically. You will also be notified if there is any distress. If you are not using a Furbo then you will need to ensure you look for signs of distress when you come home.
These can be claw marks on doors, destructive behaviour or neighbours complaining of howling/barking.
Once you are leaving the dog regularly for an hour then build up by 30 minutes until they are being left for a maximum of 4 hours. A dog will need to eliminate so 4 hours is the longest I would leave a dog before they get let out in the garden or taken for a walk.
Company’s like Pets Great and Small will work with you and your dog to visit them when you go back to work. They should be played with and then left with a chew or another food toy in order to ensure they settle until it is time to come home. This not only breaks up the day but also adds enrichment to stop your dog’s separation anxiety.
If you are still having issues with Separation anxiety?
You can engage a dog trainer such as Pets Great and Small to support you and your dog. If you have any questions please do contact us to discuss your needs
Also, there is the option of doggy day care. We have some fabulous friends called Wag N Walkies who provide great day care where your dog will have company all day whilst you are at work.
If you struggle my ultimate advice is to reach out for help – There is never a problem that is too large to overcome with time, perseverance and love.