Separation Anxiety is the most common cause of distress and upset for pet dogs. Some owners won’t even notice the behaviour, as they will be out of the house when it kicks in.
Dogs are pack animals, and being separated from the rest of the pack is a stressful and lonely experience for them. Barking, whining, yelping and howling are all behaviour exhibited by dogs experiencing separation anxiety. The stress can also be destructive to the home and property in numerous forms. Your dog might pee or defecate indoors, chew furniture, and in some rare cases, dogs have been noted to even chew at their paws or fur through stress.
Dogs like routines and a dog that has a clearly structured day will be considerably calmer and less likely to suffer from severe anxiety. When you leave the home without your dog, he wants to know when you will be back to keep him company. If he knows that when you go out, you will be back soon to be with him, he will handle your absence better.
Your dog knows the signs of impending isolation very well. The jingle of your keys, the sound of the zipper on your jacket and the clicking of your heels as you walk up and down the hallway are all the noises he doesn’t want to hear.
You can ease his anxiety about you leaving by desensitising him to the noises. Jangling your keys around the house even when you aren’t planning on leaving is a good way to stop him from associating the noise with the negativity of loneliness.
Leaving him for a span of five minutes or so before returning to the house is a good way to getting him used to you leaving.
You can also try leaving the house and waiting for him to settle. He may bark at your absence and if he does, wait till he begins to settle down before returning and offering praise. Once you’ve settled indoors, go out again and repeat the process until he learns that you are set on returning.
Leaving the radio on a low volume before you leave can comfort your dog with distracting sounds of conversation such as a debate show or a station that plays soothing music.
Distractions are a good way to keep your dog occupied while you’re away. Read our article on dealing with doggy boredom to see if any of those techniques ease your dog’s anxiety.