As our lives gradually return to normal our pups, who have in many cases had the pleasure of a lot of extra quality time with their humans, may start to experience some anxiety. Follow these tips to prevent or treat separation anxiety:
- If your dog has been noticeably clingy, (think spending the entire day on your lap while you binge on Netflix) start by practicing some social distancing with your pup! Shoot for not physically interacting with your dog 50% of the time you are together.
- Start by practicing short periods of separation. Give your dog a high value reward (one that she will get only when you are practicing or leaving the house) like a special chew or peanut butter stuffed and frozen Kong in the area she will be left when you leave the house down the road (crate, loose or gated in one specific area).
- Go about your business doing chores or working nearby while your dog is busy enjoying his treat, first starting in the same room as him.
- As she relaxes start to leave the room briefly (if your dog is very distressed you can start with just walking out of the room and right back in), while she works on her high value treat.
- Increase the time you’re out of the room gradually, increasing only as quickly as your dog can tolerate without getting stressed. If you see him abandon his chew to come find you, start to whine, etc you are going too fast and need to go back to the last time duration your dog was successful.
- Finally, you can work up to leaving the house for short periods of time, starting with just picking up your keys and walking to the door. Gradually increase your time away as your dog remains calm.
- The speed at which you can progress through these steps depends on your dog and her anxiety level.
- Training tip – exercise is vital to helping dogs with separation anxiety. Take your dog for a long walk or run before you leave the house. A tired dog is a more relaxed one!
If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety and you need more one-on-one coaching the team at Bark to Basics is here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!