Does your dog go into panic attacks as soon as you leave? Does it tear up the house if you're going for more than just a few minutes? If you answered yes to either of those questions, there's a good chance that your dog suffers from separation anxiety. Like humans, dogs can be plagued by the debilitating condition. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to calm your dog and help it overcome the condition. Here are three steps you can take to help your dog deal with separation anxiety.
If your dog has a full-blown meltdown when you leave, you may be moving too fast. Some dogs react better to shorter periods of separation. Set a few days aside when you can work with your dog. Start by going in the bedroom and shutting the door. Wait for several minutes and then rejoin your dog. If your dog is able to maintain composure while you're in the bedroom, go back in and extend the time that you're away.
Do this several times until you're away for about 30 minutes. Once you can go in your room for 30 minutes without inciting a meltdown, leave the house. Stay gone for the same 30 minutes. When you return, don't make a fuss. Just simply go about your normal business. Continue leaving for longer periods of time until you can stay away for several hours without a problem.
Teach it a New Habit
If you have the same routine each time you leave for the day, you might want to change things up a bit. You might have taught your dog that when you grab your keys and head out the front door, you're going to be gone all day. That routine could be setting your dog up for an anxiety attack. Try changing your routine. Instead of leaving through the front door each time you leave for the day, switch off and use the side or back doors from time-to-time. This will prevent your dog from associating a particular exit with an extended separation.
If your dog is soothed by the sound of your voice, leave it a message the next time you leave. Record a message that you can set to loop on your computer or DVR. Your dog will hear your voice throughout the day, which will prevent an anxiety attack.
If your dog has separation anxiety, you can't just stay home with it. You need to help it overcome its emotional problems. Use the tips provided here to help your dog adjust to being alone from time-to-time. If your dog continues to have problems with separation, talk to your veterinary clinic. It might be time to consider medication.