Separation Anxiety: Preparing Your Dog to Be Left Alone (Again)

Many people in Seattle and beyond continue to adjust to the new normal since the pandemic and are working less from home.  You might find yourself feeling a bit anxious as you start your new routine, and your pup might be feeling a certain way about you being away as well.  

Are you getting ready to go back into the office and notice your pup is experiencing some separation anxiety? Is it feeling harder and harder to run those weekend errands? Do you sometimes wonder if you will ever be able to take a vacation without your beloved? Well, we’re here to offer some tips to help manage your pup’s separation anxiety as you transition back into the office, take more outings, and travel more. 


What is Separation Anxiety? 

When your dog spends a lot of time with you, they can become overly attached, creating an unhealthy dependence. This then makes it very hard on your pup when they’re left alone. Dogs can display a range of symptoms from mild behaviors such as general distress, pacing, panting, and vocalizations to more severe symptoms such as house/crate soiling, destruction of the home, or trying to scratch or chew their way out of their crate, or even trying to escape the home. 

The more severe symptoms can be very dangerous for your pup because they can end up harming themselves. The worse the separation anxiety, the harder it will be to work through, and this is why it is so important to create an atmosphere where your pup is comfortable with alone or independent time.


What Causes a Dog To Have Separation Anxiety? 

When your dog is used to having constant human contact because you’re always home and they’re able to follow you from room to room, they learn to rely on that constant companionship. It will be a shock to their system if you remove that stimulation from the constant interaction. This will cause them to be anxious. From the first moment you bring your dog home, one of your most important jobs will be to teach them how to be alone. Look, I get it. We get dogs for that companionship, so it’s tempting to spend every waking second with your fur baby. The reality is, though, that’s not possible. We have obligations that will cause us to leave the house. From going to work or grocery shopping, your dog needs to learn to be okay with being alone for a few hours.

Another important point to note is that a dog coming from a stressful living environment such as a rescue or shelter can also trigger anxiety in your dog. If you obtained your pet from a shelter, they would likely be more prone to develop separation anxiety. 

If your dog has been rehomed a couple of times (but has finally found their forever home with you), it may also experience a little separation anxiety. It will be very important to set them up with a good schedule, including decompression time(naps) and independent time. 

Separation Anxiety Preparing Your Dog to Be Left Alone


So, How Do You Manage Your Dog’s Anxiety?

There are steps you can take to intervene and make things better for your pet. Patience and consistent training will get you and your dog through this. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Contact Brea for a consultation if you need help working through separation anxiety with your dog!

First, you want to separate yourself from your dog for short periods. You can start by leaving your house for a few seconds and then return to your dog. Be sure to leave treats around for your pet to enjoy. Then, gradually increase the time you spend outside of the house. Start with going for five seconds, then increase to ten seconds, then 15 seconds. You don’t want to leave for extended periods right away as you will scare your dog and set back your training. 

When your dog seems okay with being alone for short periods, start mimicking your routine as if you’re truly going to leave the house. Grab your wallet, keys, lunch bag, and anything you need will need when you go to work. Our dogs are very observant creatures. They will eventually understand that when you pick up certain items, it signals that you are about to leave. 

Other Tips For Keeping Your Dog Comfortable While You’re Gone

Make Sure You Leave Your Dog in a Safe Space

When you do leave, your dog should have a safe space to relax for the day. Whether that’s in a crate or their bed by the backdoor, it should be in a familiar area. Don’t leave your dog in a room they don’t usually spend time in. Ensure they have plenty of food and water during the day as well. 


Don’t Make a Big Fuss When You Leave and Come Back 

Our dogs are emotional creatures. They can feel when we are happy, sad, nervous etc. If you leave and make it a theatrical event, you will increase your dogs’ stress level and make it harder for them to accept that you have to go. Don’t hug and kiss your dog goodbye. Just leave calmly, and when you return, do the same thing. 


Put On Some Background Noise

DogTV is an excellent option for content that is designed just for dogs! The sounds and stimuli are the same things your dog would be exposed to in the outside world. Background noise can help distract your dog from other outside noises that may ordinarily set them off, such as cars honking or other dogs barking. You can also leave the radio or tv on for your dog, so they feel less alone. 

Separation Anxiety Preparing Your Dog to Be Left


Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone For Too Long

You know your dog better than anyone else. Therefore you know their threshold in terms of how long they can be left alone comfortably. If you know you will be out of the house for long hours, it is wise to hire a pet sitter or a dog walker to give your dog some midday relief. 

Also, while your pet is home alone, ensure they have enough toys and treats to keep them entertained. Leave your shoes and other valuables out of reach in case your pup gets bored and decides to chew on your stuff. 

Leaving your fur baby alone is difficult, but with some time, patience and dedication, you can build up the confidence in your dog to stay alone comfortably until you return home.. As long as you prepare yourself ahead of time, they will be perfectly fine! If you find yourself needing some additional help working with a dog trainer in Seattle is a great start! 



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