Last Updated on January 20, 2022 by Dogs Vets
How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Your Pet
Separation anxiety in pets is a common behavioral problem that can be very difficult to deal with.
This article will introduce the topic and provide information on how it affects pets, why they may exhibit signs of separation anxiety, and methods for preventing this condition from developing in new or existing pets.
It will also address strategies for dealing with a pet who suffers from separation anxiety. It will cover everything from natural calming supplements for dogs to best practices when leaving the house to help you and your pet live happier anxiety-free lives.
What Is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety can be defined as excessive distress or disruption to normal behavior exhibited by pets when their owner is not present.
Usually, these signs are most noticeable when the pet’s owner is leaving for work (or another prolonged absence) and returning (or another expected return). The signs of separation anxiety may include but are not limited to:
- Destructive behavior
- Vocalizing (barking or whining)
- Excessive salivation
Why Do Pets Develop Anxiety?
Animals with separation anxiety may have developed these anxiety levels because they lack regular stimulation and mental exercise.
Many pets are left alone during the day by their owners instead of receiving the companionship they need.
Pets left alone for long periods may become bored, anxious, and stressed. Additionally, some pets may have had negative experiences in the past when their owners have left them alone (e.g., a traumatic event such as a thunderstorm).
Genetics may also play a role in whether or not a pet develops separation anxiety, with certain breeds of dogs being more prone to the condition.
How to Prevent Separation Anxiety
One of the best ways to deal with separation anxiety is ensuring it never becomes a problem in the first place. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help prevent separation anxiety from developing in your pet.
1. Start by gradually getting your pet used to being away from you. Make sure you are always leaving them in a positive environment and that they are comfortable there.
Start by leaving them alone for very short periods (a minute or two as puppies) and gradually increase the amount of time you are away from your pet.
2. Give your pet plenty of attention and exercise when home. This will help keep them mentally and physically healthy and reduce the chances of developing anxiety. A tired pet is a calmer pet!
3. Make sure your pet has a designated space where they can relax and feel safe when you are not home. This could be a kennel, crate, or designated room in your house. You should also provide your pet with toys to keep them entertained while alone.
For example, special treat-dispensing toys or puzzles or healthy, natural dog treats your pet can gnaw on can allow your pet to enjoy the solo life while you are gone.
4. Natural calming supplements may also be helpful when preventing separation anxiety from developing in pets. Since over 70% of pet dogs are prone to anxiety, finding ways that don’t involve prescription medication to calm them is necessary for maintaining long-term better behavior.
By using this sort of product early on, it can prevent your pet from ever reaching a breaking point and developing full-blown separation anxiety.
How to Deal with Separation Anxiety
If you’re at the point where your pet is displaying signs of separation anxiety, there are a few things you can do to help ease their stress.
In addition to testing the strategies above for preventing separation anxiety, you can also try these:
1. Make sure your pet has plenty of toys and chew items to keep them occupied while you’re away. If they haven’t had much experience with toys before now, you may want to spend some time playing with them and encouraging them to play with toys on their own. This way, they’ll be used to the idea of toys.
2. Ensure their immediate environment isn’t silent so that they don’t react to everything they hear outside. For example, leave a TV on while you’re gone to create some background noise for your pet (but don’t make it too loud).
You can also use white, pink, or brown noise machines or apps to provide constant background noise to keep them company.
By using a smart speaker, you can even have control of the ambient sound when you’re not home.
3. Provide plenty of positive reinforcement when you come home. When your pet is calm and relaxed, give them lots of praise, treats, and affection. This will help reinforce the behaviors you want them to display while you’re away and make them more likely to repeat them in the future.
4. Set up a routine and stick to it. This will give your pet a better idea of what to expect while you’re gone and help them adjust more quickly.
For example, try going out the door at the same time every day, coming back home at the same time (and using the same entrance) for meals, walks, and playtime with your pet.
5. Consider getting advice from your vet. For example, suppose your pet displays extreme signs of distress when you leave. In that case, your vet might be able to prescribe a medication to help them feel less anxious and ease their symptoms.
According to research, medications specifically designed for pet anxiety can be used at the beginning of training or behavioral therapy to make coping with separation anxiety more manageable. Still, pets should eventually be weaned off of them.
Strategies for Success
Separation anxiety is a genuine phenomenon in pets. No one wants to see their pet suffer from anxiety, especially when we can do things to help prevent it or ease their symptoms.
If you’re proactive and start using some of the tips above, your pet should be able to stay calm and relaxed when you’re not home. And if they do start showing signs of separation anxiety, these tips will help you get them the treatment they need to cope.
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