Isolation distress or what many know as separation anxiety is quite common in pets when they’re young. While it may seem like more of an annoyance for owners, this adaptive survival mechanism happens when a puppy’s mother or companion is away. In the wild, a it’s a pup’s cry and whimper that help his mother find him again.
In reality what most pets experience is a milder form of the same condition. Isolation distress can look like anything from digging, chewing, barking, urinating or trying to escape.
On the other hand, experts say separation anxiety is far less common and can be even more destructive in some cases. If you’re in doubt, your vet can diagnose whether or not your pet is suffering from separation anxiety or isolation distress.
Typically, dogs with separation anxiety have developed a hyper–attachment to their person. They might get depressed when they know their owner is leaving. Others might even try to prevent them from going.
Symptoms become more extreme like urinating or defecating on the floor, scratching their paws on the door until they bleed or howling uncontrollably until you return.
No one wants to see their pet to go through anything distressing traumatic. It’s heart breaking when our pets are suffering in any kind of way.
So how do we as their protectors help them work through their anxiety? Here are a few ways The Barking Lot found that could help.
While experts say there’s no one single indicator why our pets experience bouts of distress, they have been able to identify a few things that could act as a trigger. Maybe you’ve recently moved or there been a change in schedule. A new person could have come into the home or someone your pet is used to has left.
Whatever your situation, you can help ease your pet’s anxiety by doing the following:
Allowing your dog at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day before you leave, will help expend some of your pet’s pent up energy. Popular dog behaviorist Cesar Milan suggests using a dog backpack with a little extra weight to provide a more rigorous exercise routine.
Your pet should be tired and ready to rest at the end of the walk. This helps keep him calm while you’re away. If you can’t fit this in to your schedule, it’s easy to drop your pet at The Barking Lot for a day of dog daycare.
Practice putting on your coat and shoes, going in another room and closing the door behind you. Have your dog sit down on the opposite side of the door and wait for you until you come out. Do this for longer and longer intervals until your pet is more comfortable being by himself. Then practice leaving through an exit door – first for a few moments and then longer periods. Remember to offer your dog a treat before you leave, that way he knows it’s safe for him to be alone.
One of the things that makes our dogs such loyal pets, is their ability to sense and react to our emotions. So if we leave our pets feeling nervous or anxious ourselves, then they pick up that and begin to exhibit those same emotions. Practice leaving with the confidence that you’ll come back – and that everything will be okay until you return.
If you’re worried about leaving your pets on long trips for dog boarding, leave your worries behind. We make sure to treat your dog like family at The Barking Lot.