Discover How to Prevent Separation Anxiety

Dogs feel very bad when their owners leave the house, even though it's a normal part of the household routine
Discover How to Prevent Separation Anxiety

Last update: 19 February, 2018

Even if they go to work everyday, the animal still suffers what is called “separation anxiety.” It is visible in some breeds more than others, therefore we are going to give you some advice so that you can prevent it.

Tips to avoid separation anxiety

The connection we have with our pets is very strong. They think of us as the leaders, and so they don’t want to abandon us, not even for a minute (so it’s normal that your dog follows you to the bathroom). When we go to work, go shopping, or go to the gym, we can observe that the animal behaves in a strange way. It’s even possible that you hear his barking or crying from the street.

Since dogs are distant relatives of wolves and their nature tells them it’s better to live in packs, they feel depressed, stressed, and anxious when they are alone. So they break furniture, bite objects, do their business where they shouldn’t… Pay attention to these tips to prevent separation anxiety:

1. Take him on a walk

Before going to the office you can take a quick walk with your pet so that he gets a bit tired and releases energy. That way he won’t be as awake during the day and he will calm down. Don’t forget to leave him a good amount of food and water so that he can recover from the morning exercise. The idea is that while you aren’t at home, the dog must be in “rest mode.”

2. Make a routine

Before leaving the house, do more or less the same things: get the keys, turn off the lights, raise the blinds… In this way, the dog will associate these actions with your departure and he will be more prepared. This ritual is advisable every time that we leave the house (even if it’s for a short time). 

3. Don’t give him too much attention

Many people make the mistake of getting too close to their pets, talking to them, kissing them, and spoiling them a few minutes before leaving. However, this is not good for the animal, since he associates it with separation. Therefore, ensure that he understands that it’s a normal and routine situation. Don’t tell him, “Be good, I’ll come back soon, don’t miss me too much, take care of the house,” and all those things that we usually express. 

4. Say goodbye with anticipation

This means that if an hour passes between when you get up to when you leave, you will have to greet and play with him about 20 minutes before leaving. That way you show him how much you love him, but he will not think that you’re abandoning him. Nothing will happen if you leave without saying goodbye.

5. Set aside guilty feelings

Once you have everything ready to leave, block out those negative feelings that make you feel like an evil person for leaving your dog alone. No nerves, sadness, concern, or guilt. Remember that you are the one that has control and authority in this relationship. A calm leader is soothing and reassuring for the pack.

6. Get him used to it little by little

A good way of avoiding separation anxiety is having the animal go through an adaptation period. For this to work, the dog is alone more and more each time so that he can get used to it. For example, you can start going for a walk around the block, then to have a coffee, then to go shopping, and continue gradually like that until you get to the 8 or 10 hours that you need for work.

7. Relax after coming home

When we open the door after a long day, the first thing we see is a tail wagging happily, some jumping, and barking. But even if it’s difficult, you should wait until the dog calms down before greeting him. Otherwise he will think that you support his behavior.

8. Don’t punish him

Dogs associate punishments and rewards according to what they do. For them, separation anxiety is not a choice. Therefore, if he destroys something, no matter how much you scold him, he will not understand what he did wrong. He will actually think that being left alone is a punishment.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.