For most of us, our routines have drastically changed over the last year. This includes, among many other things, spending a lot more time with our pups. Although this is one of the best things about being home so much, it is also one of the things that is deeply concerning to us. Eventually, many of us will go back to work or school and our pups may not be comfortable with the sudden change of being left home alone. We highly recommend that you think about what life may be like in the near future and try to mimic that somewhat. We don't want your dog to be shocked by having your undivided attention for months and then suddenly they are left alone for hours at a time. It is helpful to go to the mailbox by yourself or go on short walks without your dog so they do not forget what it is like to be home alone.
Some research tells us that the rates of separation related anxiety is 17% of dogs while others find that number is as high as 40%, depending upon how it is measured and its severity. This is all prior to Covid! This is an alarming statistic. Separation related anxiety, along with its accompanying behaviors, is one of the top reasons why people call on us. Sometimes, the pet parents are not fully aware of what separation anxiety is, just that their canine seems to “misbehave” when they are away. Other times it is clear and distressing to both the dogs and humans. At times, the signs can be easy to miss since they happen only when you are not there. Many dogs with separation anxiety exhibit clear signs such as vocalizations, inappropriate elimination, and destructive behavior. However, some dogs do not exhibit these behaviors, but they are still anxious when their parents leave the home. We recommend that all pet parents record video of their dog up to and after their departure to see what he or she does after the door closes. Is your canine companion able to settle fairly quickly or is your dog is panting, pacing, whining, drooling, or exhibiting some of the behaviors listed above? Understand that some dogs are destructive because they are bored and not necessarily because they have separation anxiety. If you video your dog and are unsure what you are seeing, reach out to us and we can evaluate the video and make recommendations. While anxiety is a very uncomfortable state, it is very treatable. We have both professional and personal experience with separation anxiety and would be happy to assist if needed.
There are a some easy things you can do as pet parents if you suspect or believe your dog is suffering from separation related anxiety….
Get a clean bill of health from your veterinarian to ensure sure that there aren’t any medical concerns that are affecting your dog's behavior.
Video your dog in your absence to get a baseline of your dog's behaviors when you are gone and send the video to our dropbox link (email us for the link). This will help us determine next steps and determine how severe the problem is.
Gather support, including family/friends, and join our support group to help you work through what you are going through. The group is a safe place to know you are not alone. Everyone needs some help now and then.
Consider journaling your progress, or lack thereof. We have quality Komtrak notebooks for this purpose. This will help us all see trends as well as help you see progress on your journey.
Now is the time to treat this, not when you go back to work or need to leave your dog more often.
Contact us! We can help you navigate treatment options and work on behavior modification to eliminate and decrease your canine companion's anxieties.