Let us tell you a back-to-school story from a dog’s point of view. Every year, Max spends a delightful summer taking long walks, romping outdoors and spending time with his family. Then something surprising happens. His human playmates go to school, his parents go to work and the house is suddenly empty. Max is left home alone to watch the dust settle. Much howling, whining and scratching ensues.
Has this story happened at your home? Many dogs get separation anxiety as the school year begins, while others feel it year round. Their distress leads to panic responses like eliminating indoors, barking, and destructive chewing or scratching. If this is an issue at your home, use these tips to help ease your dog’s anxiety…
Avoid tearful goodbyes
Leaving your home shouldn’t be a big event. That will only make your dog more anxious. Give him a treat, a chew toy or a food-dispensing puzzle before you leave instead. It’ll keep him busy while you slip out quietly and he’ll come to associate your leaving with a treat.
Quiet down the happy reunions
It may be fun to get a joyful reunion when you return, but it’s best to let your dog settle down before greeting him. Try to ignore him until he calms down then give him the attention he craves.
Does your dog get anxious and soil the house while you’re gone? Even a housetrained dog can have this panic response when left alone, but resist reprimanding him for the mess. It won’t help if it’s not done while he’s in the act and it may even make things worse.
Try to prepare your dog with some alone time. Help him burn some energy with a walk or exercise before you go, then leave him alone for short periods of time. Gradually increase that time before school begins.
Turn to calming products or professional help
If none of these techniques help your dog, he might benefit most from a calming aid or a vet’s help. Aids like the Thundershirt, a vest that applies gentle pressure, or Comfort Zone, which emits dog-appeasing pheromones, may relieve the anxiety. Your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-anxiety drugs for more severe cases.
Visit Pet Supermarket for calming aids and let us know how if these tips help ease your dog’s anxiety. Comment on our blog or on our Facebook page!