Just like us humans, our dogs can often experience anxiety. It is a normal and healthy emotion, but they can also develop separation anxiety if they spend too much time apart from their owners or are left alone. This is the result of real stress, and they can become destructive, start to relieve themselves indoors and bark or howl all day.
These behaviours are not ideal for you or your neighbours, and your dog is probably feeling overwhelmed by the stressful situation. You should always speak to your vet if your dog is displaying any stress-related signs as they can sometimes harm themselves while trying to find you around the house.
There are some ways to help your dog relax when home alone, here are our top tips on keeping them happy.
Understanding the problem
There might be some days where your dog seems okay with you leaving, or they didn’t destroy anything while you were out and about. If you’re able to find a pattern to your dog’s behaviour, you might be able to ease their anxiety.
If you recognise that your dog’s anxiety is worst on the days you’re out of the house for a longer period of time, but they can manage without you when you pop to the shop, then you can adapt accordingly.
It’s impossible to be home all the time, but even popping home at lunch, or getting a neighbour or family member to check on your dog can make all of the difference to an anxious pooch.
Make time for exercise
Morning routines are hectic enough without having to fit in a dog walk somewhere in-between breakfast and getting dressed, but it can help your dog settle down once you’re gone. You might need to get up a little earlier, but your dog will love the quality time with you before you leave for the day.
If a walk isn’t possible until later in the day, why not provide some mental stimulation while you eat the most important meal of the day? Using a food-dispensing toy to feed them their breakfast or trying to teach them a new trick each morning can help tire them out a little.
Prepare an area for your dog
When you do leave the house, your dog should be given a safe and secure bit of the house so they can’t hurt themselves if they start to become destructive. By providing a little safe-haven or den for your dog, can help make them feel safer in their environment without you around. Some dogs might benefit from being crate-trained while others would just appreciate their bed, favourite toys and a few hidden treats dotted around the room.
Stair gates can also help your dog get used to their area while you’re still at home as they’ll be able to see you but won’t be able to be with you.
Use a pet camera
There are several pet cameras on the market that allows owners to interact with their pet while they’re not at home. Each device varies, but some have a treat-dispensing feature while others let you speak to your dog while listening in on them.
These cameras will allow you to check in on your dog throughout the day, without disrupting too much of their day once they’ve settled.
Provide some entertainment
By leaving some activities for your dog to get their nose into while you’re out can help ease some of their boredom, and they might not even notice you were gone at all! Destruction boxes, and fillable, dispensable or chew toys can help keep them from worrying or waiting.