Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ways to Help Your Dog Cope with Separation Anxiety

There is much truth to the phrase absence does make the heart grow fonder, or in a dogs case his belly. We are all familiar with those sad puppy eyes and the whines that tug at your heart saying “Please don’t leave” which can be a challenge. It's no fun to leave for work in the morning and hear your dog barking and howling in misery as you drive away. Remember that dogs are relational and love to be with their loved ones all the time. But with work and errands this is not possible. Hmmm...if only you could get paid to stay at home with your dog.

It's even less fun to come home and find that your dog has gone on a chewing & destroying spree. To your surprise with his insatiable appetite he has managed to tear up papers, eat your home work and gnaw your coffee table. Instead of sending you a Hallmark card to say "I missed you" your dog has opted to use his design eye to redecorate your home by digging a hole in your couch and de-stuffing pillows. With missing you and having extra time on his paws, your dog can get in a lot of mischief only to leave your home looking like a frat house.

Besides, indulging in the occasional comfort snack or box of pop tarts your dog can exhibit other coping behaviors. Your dog may bark, cry, dig, chew, scratch at doors, howl or leave the occasional surprise soil on your beautiful hardwood floor.
But don't be discouraged there are a few things you can do to help your dog's separation anxiety:

1. Keep arrivals and departures low-key- This is the hardest thing for any loving parent to do but does work. When you arrive home, ignore your dog for the first few minutes, then calmly pet him. This may be hard for you to do, but it's important to train your dog to remain calm and collective.

2. Distract your dog from whining, pacing, and reeking havoc on your home by giving them a new outlet.Give your dog a fun eco-toy to occupy his time. Toys with treat spots are perfect because times flies when you are having fun.

Leave your dog with an article of clothing that smells like you—such as an old t-shirt that you've slept in recently, but one that you don't mind being possibly chewed or torn.

4. Turn on the tv or radio to a soothing station truly helps any dog to relax. When you leave, put the radio on to a soothing station: classical music is ideal, but any station featuring lots of talk shows is also ideal. Keep the volume quite low, and it’ll calm him down a bit and give him the feeling that he's got company.
Lola the eco dog loves catching up on the Food Network or Animal Planet.

5. Exercise your dog- If you are going to gone for a long time tiring your dog out will help him sleep while you are away. A good vigorous 15-20 minute walk can really help so enlist the help of a dog walker for mid-day strolls.

6. Get him accustom to you leaving- Try this out!! Taking things nice and slowly, practice getting ready to go: jingle your keys about, put on your coat, and open the door. Then – without leaving! – sit back down and don’t go anywhere. Do this until he's not reacting any more. When there’s no reaction, give him a treat and lavish praise for being so brave. Next, practice actually walking out the door (and returning immediately), again doing this until there’s no reaction. Gradually work up – gradually being the operative word here! – until you’re able to leave the house with no signs of stress from him.

**Important - Never reward you dogs crying and whining by saying "Its okay, good boy !" this only makes things worse. Although this may sounds mean patting and cooing your dog only makes the situation worse and reinforces the behavior.

But if all else fails you can also try Spot Organics Chill Essential Oil which helps calm and relax any restless dog. Great for separation anxiety, during trips to the vet, training sessions, during storms, family gatherings or parties, or any situation where calming might be needed. Take it from a pet owner whose dog has had her share of whines and tantrums, this product works wonders!!



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1 comment:

Olive said...

Great info, I will try that oil..our issues are.. I work at home and need a quiet environment sometimes. After a few hours ...she wants to play or walk and I am usually working 5 hours straight..sigh..been a real challenge lately.

Licks from Olive :)