Woof Are You Going? Signs Your Pet Has Separation Anxiety
You hear the excited barking and scratching at the door before you can even open the door. Once you do, you are greeted with the sight of your pet flying around, going bonkers with joy. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been out for an hour or an entire day, your pet becomes overly excited just the same.
As in any other loving relationship, spending time apart can be tough. The highs are high, but the lows feel like the lowest of lows for your pet. As for you, it’s always difficult to leave the house knowing your pet suffers from anxiety while you’re apart.
As the country slowly opens back up, we believe it’s time to get to the bottom of this. Here’s a breakdown on what you should know in case your pet struggles with separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety at a glance
You already know how your hyper-attached pet becomes over excited when you walk in the door, but what happens before your arrival? Pets experiencing separation anxiety suffers from real stress when their owners are not around and that may manifest in unwanted and sometimes destructive behaviors. When left alone, your pet may:
- Howl, bark, or whine excessively
- Have indoor accidents, even when housebroken
- Chew things up
- Scratch at windows or doors
- Drool, pant, or salivate more than usual
- Dig or try to escape
Now that we’re a little more clear on the signs of separation anxiety, let’s talk about what you can’t do, because you may have been (unawarely) feeding into your pet’s anxiety.
Don’t make a big deal out of arrivals and departures. When you’re preparing to leave the house, always act calm. Play it cool and project the confidence of a pack leader. This assures your pet that the time apart is no big deal.
When you return, wait until your pet settles down before greeting them briefly. Avoid gushing as it will only work them up. With a little consistency, you can help your pet learn that it is OK to be alone.
How to ease your pet’s separation anxiety
You may have noticed that besides the more obvious signs of separation anxiety, there are subtle signs (whining, panting, pacing, following you around, etc.) and they appear before you actually leave the house. Your pet is smarter than you think and can pick up on cues that indicate you are about to depart.
List all the things you do when preparing to leave the house that make your pet anxious. These can be picking up your keys, bag, jacket, and even wearing your mask. Put on your shoes but don’t leave. Pick up your keys without heading to the door. Do this over and over—make sure your pet is calm before presenting the cues again. Eventually, your pet will learn that these cues are no longer predictive of your departure.
After this, you can practice mock departures. Ask your pet to stay, then leave the room for 5 minutes. As they get used to the stay game, slowly increase the amount of time you’re away.
Retraining your pet should be done in a gradual and positive way—go slowly! As much as it seems like your pet is doing all the work here, you have just as much responsibility. Your pet is counting on you, so be consistent and you’ll be coming home to a happy and calm pet in no time.
- Overcoming the Separation: How to Know if Your Dog is Dealing with Anxiety
- Separation Anxiety in Dogs