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Separation Anxiety in Dogs

If you've ever lived with a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, you will know that it's no joke. It can be detrimental to your stuff, your social life, and your dog's happiness. Here's what you need to know about this surprisingly common problem.

It's Not Always Separation Anxiety

Many dogs just don’t like being left alone in a house. Most of them will just get on with it, and keep themselves busy while their owner is away, but there are others, especially those who are a little nervous, who will bark or howl incessantly, until their owner returns. This type of behavior, called separation anxiety, normally happens to those dogs that were not socialized properly as puppies, or have lived in a number of homes during their lives.

Separation Anxiety Tactics

The whole idea is to make your dog feel comfortable about staying alone in your home during the time that you’re away, so give him a treat in the form of a toy, but rub your hands on the toy first, to make sure that your dog has your scent with him as he plays with it.

Food, especially something really tasty, is always welcome with any dog, so give your dog a juicy bone to keep him busy while you’re away. Let your dog’s attention stay with the toy or treat when you leave, by not making any fuss at all. Your dog needs to feel safe and secure when you leave, so it might also be a good idea to put him in a dog crate when you go out for a few hours.

Let your dog think that he is not alone, by leaving your television or radio playing, just as you would do when you are at home. The background voices and music will take his mind off the fact that you’re not there.

Enlist Help

Sometimes, no amount of toys, snacks, extra walks or attention can cure a dog of their separation anxiety, and if that happens to you, the best thing you can do is find someone who can help. A doggy daycare is a great option for dogs that struggle with being alone, or you could hire a dog walker or sitter to come to your home for a few hours a day, just to keep your dog happier while you aren't home.

Your dog's vet may also be able to give you some good tips and advice on how to deal with their anxiety, so don't be shy to ask!

Emotional problems are sometimes just as serious, if not more so, as physical ones, and if your dog is really struggling, you owe it to him to find a solution.

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