A shoe torn to shreds, bits of pillow scattered in every room, a tattered carpet…
If you often come across these types of remains when you get home in the evening, your dog is without doubt suffering from anxiety.
We call it “separation anxiety” (or “detachment disorder”). Spending too much time alone means a lack of stimulation and attention. And if your dog doesn’t know how to contain their stress, they will be sure to let off some steam on your possessions.
SourcePuppies are the biggest concern because they haven’t yet learnt how to control their emotions. This human fixed a camera around his dog’s neck to see his reaction when he left the house.
Here are 7 tips that will soothe your dog and let you leave home feeling a little lighter of heart!
1. A spot of sport in the morning.
SourceIt’s perfect! Your dog is guaranteed to feel less bored during the day. Above all, it tires them out a bit. On coming home, their urge to take a nap will make them forget you ever left!
2. Otherwise, play!
SourceIf a sports outing isn’t possible, a play session of at least 20 minutes or 30 minutes will do the trick! The idea is to always give your dog a dose of stimulation, interaction and to wear them out so that they will be able to cope a little better when you leave.
3. Do “false exit” exercises.
SourceEvery morning, your dog anticipates your departure. Their anxiety peaks when they hear the sound of your keys, when they see you tie your shoelaces or when you put on your jacket. You must desensitise them from all these stress triggers.
How? It’s simple. You just need to disassociate these sounds and movements from you leaving. For example, rattle your keys in the evening and then feed your dog. Or put your coat on before going to watch TV. All these combinations are possible, you get the idea!
4. Above all, don’t argue.
SourceDon’t take the chewed up shoes as a sign of revenge. Your dog is simply stressed out. Punishing them as soon as you come home will only increase their anxiety.
5. Gradually familiarise them with being alone.
SourceIf you come to adopt a puppy, the best thing to do is to make them familiar with being alone little by little by leaving them for 15 or 30 minutes at first. Then progress to an hour, two hours etc...Separation anxiety often stems from them always depending on you to be there. It’s important that you gently make them aware of being alone.
6. Give them a treat when you leave.
SourceInstead of telling them off in the evening, it would be better to give your dog a snack in the morning. As you are leaving, offer them a toy stuffed with a little treat to chew on. This will occupy their time and help them to associate your departure with something pleasant.
7. Leave your pup with things to do.
SourceDogs living in apartments are more likely to behave in an uneasy manner. Unsurprisingly, it’s often a poor environment for an animal, especially when they don’t have any canine or feline friends to play with. Because of this, it’s very important to increase their living space.
Change their games regularly (organise a rotation system with lots of toys: hide them some days, then give it back to them, then hide another, etc…), a window to look out of, lots of available rooms... Your dog needs stimulation. If your dog has access to a secure outside area, that’s ideal!
SourceAnd don’t wait for them to destroy your house. If these signs of anxiety persist, take them to a behavioural specialist as they will be able to find a method to release these nerves that works for your dog.