4 Ways To Reduce Anxiety In Your Dog While You’re Away
One of the most stressful aspects of dog ownership is ensuring that they stay happy and healthy during the times you cannot be together. Whether you are saddled with a demanding work schedule, planning a vacation, or dealing with an unexpected emergency, you want to know that your dog is safe and content in your absence.
Many dogs experience some level of separation anxiety when left home alone. Behaviors can range from mild barking, pacing and house soiling to extreme reactions like destruction of property, escaping the home, and self mutilation. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to help ease these heartbreaking symptoms for your best friend.
1. Calm Pawrent, Calm Pet
The way you behave in the moments before you leave sets the tone for your dog’s entire day. The instinct of a loving pet parent is to hug and kiss your pooch, profess your love for them, and generally make a big deal out of the fact that you are about to walk out the door. The problem is, dogs don’t understand our platitudes and promises to return home at 5:30. They do, however, respond to our nervous energy and become more anxious themselves. When it is time to leave, do so calmly and quietly without any fanfare.
2. Empower Your Pup
A confident, independent dog is far less likely to suffer from anxiety. In order to empower your pup to spend time on his own, try slowly encouraging activities in a separate room while you are at home. For example, offer an enticing bone or toy in the bedroom while you watch TV in the living room.
Your dog will learn that being apart from you is not cause for panic, and eventually appreciate his independence. Leaving behind soothing reminders of your presence – like a well-worn T-shirt and soft music – may also help with the transition.
3. Herbal Relief
There are hundreds of products on the market designed to reduce canine anxiety and promote a natural, drug-free sense of well being. They come in liquids, caplets or chewable treats for ease of distribution. Ingredients include chamomile tea, vitamins, floral extracts, and even a blend of soothing peptides extracted from canine colostrum – the early mother’s milk proven to help puppies feel calm and safe. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
4. Increase Exercise with a service like Wag Dog Walking
(Wag is offering a free walk for iHeartDogs.com readers. Literally, download app, use free walk, decide if it works for you. PLUS every walk you book feeds a shelter dog. Just click here to take advantage and get started. )
We all know how much more mellow we feel when we’ve had a good amount of exercise. Just like us, our pups have an amount of expendable energy they need to get out per day. Every dog breed is different and has different needs -a German Shepherd Dog – for example – needs 1.7 miles of exercise per day. As you can imagine, regardless how good we are, life happens and there are periods of time where a few miles with the pup just doesn’t happen. Lack of exercise can be a huge driver to anxiety, chewing, destroying, digging – all that pent up energy can cause a host of issues.
Wag Walking is a ridiculously great solution that we have used personally and recommend to our friends. We like it for a host of reasons including:
-All dog walkers are vetted, screened, rated and local. Your neighborhood dog lovers are walking your pup and you can review feedback from others to choose your perfect helper.
-All walks are on GPS and they keep track of bowel movements. We literally pop in and watch them walk on a map knowing where our dog is at anytime. I know if Splash had a bowel movement and it helps me plan outdoor time.
-Wag has a safe home program where they provide a secure lock to help if we are away. Once we found our perfect dog walker and used them for a while, we were able to get a special gate lock from Wag that allowed our vetted walker to stop by when we were not home and take the pup out. This was especially helpful for long days at the office or unexpected trips.
-Very little planning needed. Life ebbs and flows and we love that we are able to get a dog walker withing 30 minutes to an hour. If we notice Splash is especially anxious we will send her out for a long walk. It always works well for her.
As mentioned all iHeartDogs.com readers get a free walk (through July 2017) AND every time you book a walk we feed a shelter dog. Just download the app (you can do so here).