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March 11, 2019

3 Ways to Ease Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

Every year, more than six million animals end up in shelters. After finding a forever home with you, your newly adopted dog may exhibit signs of separation anxiety, such as howling, chewing objects, or pacing. This is rather common, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). They recommend trying the following methods to relieve your furry friend’s stress.

1. Counterconditioning

This process is used to change your dog’s anxious or fearful reaction to one that is relaxed. It’s most effective for mild separation anxiety.

Counterconditioning works by associating a situation your dog fears with something wonderful that your dog enjoys. For instance, each time you leave your home, give your dog a food-filled puzzle toy that takes a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes to eat. Chew proof dog beds also help with chewing issues.

2. Desensitization

If your dog has moderate to severe separation anxiety, desensitization techniques are helpful.

This process works by gradually getting your dog accustomed to spending time alone. It begins with a series of short separation periods that don’t cause stress. The separation periods are slowly lengthened over the course of weeks, with sessions every day.

During the desensitization process, it’s crucial that your canine friend only experiences low levels of anxiety, or your dog won’t become comfortable with being separated from you. This means that while treatment is taking place, your dog must not be alone, with the exception of the desensitization periods. However, most dogs will be fine as long as someone stays with them, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be you. A friend or relative can stay with your dog when you’re gone. Other options are doggy daycare or a pet sitter.

3. Keep Your Dog Busy

Keeping your furry friend physically and mentally stimulated is an important element in the treatment of a variety of behavior issues, particularly when anxiety is involved. When your dog’s body and mind are active, that decreases stress and offers more acceptable outlets for typical dog behavior. This leaves less excess energy for your dog to use up when left alone. If chewing is an issue, don’t forget about chew proof dog beds and indestructible crate pads.

Your dog is so grateful to you for giving them a loving forever home. If signs of separation anxiety appear, counterconditioning, desensitization, and plenty of activity will help your friend to be happy and relaxed when you’re gone, and even happier when you return.