Animal separation anxiety can be a real issue for some pet parents. While at first a dog whining at the door can seem a little cute and silly, actions surrounding animal separation anxiety can become quite dangerous and pets desperate to escape for a lunchtime reunion with their mum or dad can really hurt themselves. Some symptoms of animal separation anxiety can include: Excessive whining when owners leave, urination in strange areas and destructive behaviour such as chewing as well as the aforementioned escape attempts.
Here at the Daily Fluff we’ve compiled the top five ways to deal with animal separation anxiety. Remember that extreme cases of separation anxiety may require treatment and training from a certified pet behavioural specialist.
For more mild cases of separation anxiety counterconditioning may be effective. Counterconditioning is a method that relies upon associative behaviour. Owners can train their pets to look forward to a normally anxiety-inducing situation by giving them some sort of treat to look forward to. Food based puzzles and toys are perfect for this. Every morning before leaving for work you could try stuffing a food based puzzle toy with a tasty treat to alleviate antisocial behaviour. Your pet will eventually move their attention from your leaving to the treat they will consume and begin to enjoy their alone time.
Leave the TV on:
Leave the TV or radio on. This is another option best for mild separation anxiety. The lull of human voices will comfort and interest your pet, as well as distract them from your departure.
Mix up your pre-departure routine:
As a pet lover you notice that your pet is aware of certain things about you. One set of such behaviour is known as ‘pre-departure cues’. You may notice that your pet can exhibit signs of anxiety when you start to go through your daily leaving routines. Whether this consists of grabbing your keys, ironing, putting on your shoes, or packing your bag. You can extend your counterconditioning training by alleviating your pet’s idea of the significance of these motions. Pick up your keys, and then sit down and wait for a little while before leaving the house. Other methods include leaving for very short periods and then coming back, gradually moving on to longer out-of-home excursions.
Try crate training:
Crate training is another method that may help your pet deal with separation anxiety. When a pet is enclosed in a smaller area they can feel more secure. If you opt to use a crate training method (best for dogs) ensure that you create a ‘safe space’. Fill the crate with lots of toys, treats, etc.
Reward good behaviour:
Treat your pet if they are quiet when you come home: Regardless of the method you use you should reinforce it when you greet your pet upon your return home. If they are calm and quiet treat them and show affection. If they come bursting out barking, ignore them in a calm manner until they resume normal behaviour.