You left your house for work in the morning, just like any other day. Your pooch made his usual whining noises, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. It was only when you returned home that evening, that you’ve come to learn the devastating truth of what really happened in your absence. Your downstairs neighbor greeted you with a sour face before you even parked your car, and complained that your dog’s whining and barking kept her baby up all day. After countless apologies, you finally managed to make your way to your apartment. That’s when you understood the full gravity of today’s events. Your dog chewed your favorite shoes, shredded your grandmother’s sofa and urinated all over your new carpet. Don’t worry, your dog isn’t demented, he’s experiencing separation anxiety, a condition which according to studies, affects almost 40% of dogs. Luckily for you, there are many ways to ease and even eliminate symptoms of your dog’s separation anxiety, here’s a list of a few do’s and don’ts:
NEVER Punish Your Dog For What He Did
In spite of it being the natural reaction of someone who just returned to a messy home, and has a whole evening of cleaning ahead of him, punishing your dog will only have a negative affect. He wouldn’t understand why you’re yelling at him, and what you’re punishing him for. An aggressive reaction can only worsen the dog’s condition.
Teach Your Dog That You Can’t Be Around Him 24/7
Your dog needs to learn to entertain himself and face his fears on his own. The most important step towards your dog’s independence is not letting it sleep with you in the same room. Stay determined, persistent, and don’t give in to it’s whining and barking. Make sure that your dog has a comfortable bed with a blanket and some way of entertaining himself. Some self-playing dog toys, like the Self-Playing Rubber Ball, are specifically designed to entertain and occupy dogs for long periods and relieve their stress and anxiety.
Ignore Your Dog Before You Leave And After You Return
While this may sound cruel at first, showing your dog that you’re equally excited to meet him after your time apart, will only worsen its anxiety the next day. Pretend your dog is invisible for half an hour before leaving, and after returning, to teach him that your time apart isn’t a big deal, it’s just your life’s routine.
Occupy Your Dog With Games
Puzzle-like games that slowly dispense food will help you distract your dog’s attention from your departure, and tire it down after the meal. Food puzzles like the Chew Treat Ball require dogs to figure out the best way to get to their food and thus help develop the dogs’ IQ and mental abilities by giving them something to chew on (get it?). These toys also serve as a good way to slow-feed dogs, when you’re not there to supervise that they’re not sucking their meals in one go.