This post is brought to you by @Purina. All opinions are my own.
For the most part, I have always had a dog. There were a few years where I had to really “talk my husband into” getting a dog. I remember selling him on how much a dog was part of a family, someone who would listen to the kiddos when they were upset, a best friend. He replied, “You talk to your dog? You know that’s crazy; right?”
And then we found Bailey Mae. She is adorable! She and my husband are also very attached…almost inseparable. And…he TALKS to her. All. The. Time. It’s a good thing because they are good for each other.
We love our dogs and taking care of them is a responsibility.
Having Bailey Mae also made me realize pets can have separation anxiety. Just like people, dogs have so different personalities.
Here is Bailey Mae waiting by the door for my husband to return.
She will wait all day. Notice her treat on the rug. It will sit there until he returns.
She knows when he is driving in our neighborhood, long before we see him.
We also recently rescued Jeb. We don’t know the history of his upbringing or his experience, but we don’t think there was much joy. We had him for three weeks, to the day, when my husband was walking him, and he became frightened by a tow truck and bolted–yanking the leash from my husband’s hand. He was lost, and four days later, we finally convinced him (my husband grabbed him, literally) to come home.
It’s been a week since his return, and he’s becoming very attached to us.
Here he is this morning when my husband ran an errand with my son — howling because he misses them.
I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Kurt, and he shared with me that separation anxiety in pets is very common–a lot more common than we realize. It is prevalent in 20-percent of the 80 million dogs in the US, and as the dog’s age, it becomes more common with 29-50%.
The reality is a dog is a creature of habit. They want to be a part of our lives.
As humans, our lives change. Summer ends, and our kiddos go back to school. Our work schedule changes. We have schedules that are packed with destinations. People come to visit. We rush out the door in the morning.
Most of us don’t fully recognize that these changes affect our pets.
These are the 5 Most Common Signs of Separation Anxiety in Pets:
- Excessive urination or defecation in the house
- Improper or excess barking/howling
- Chewing or destruction
- Change in appetite
- Pacing–especially in cats
Separation Anxiety in pets is not specific to an individual breed. Two dogs who are siblings can be very different, and one can be affected by separation anxiety, while the other is not.
It’s not a lost cause; once we recognize our pet has separation anxiety.
5 Tips to Help Your Pet Overcome Separation Anxiety:
1. Start a schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
Pets, like children, love schedules. It helps reduce anxiety when they know to expect the same thing every day.
Bailey and Jeb know what time is bedtime when I come home from work and what time the kiddos get off the bus.
2. Have a designated play time for your pet.
Weave activities each day at the same time.
Take the dog outside for a game of fetch or a walk.
Our Bailey Mae and Jeb know that when they wake up, they will go for a walk. There will be another walk at lunchtime. There will be a walk after dinner and one before bed. If we are tired, or a few minutes late on our departure from the usual time, they will remind us.
3. Be present for your pet.
Take time to snuggle with your pet or sit with your pet on the sofa. Bonding with a pet is a great relaxation technique for humans too!
4. Distract your pet.
Turn on the television or radio when you leave. This allows your pet to hear a noise while blocking the background noise of the neighborhood or the street.
Give them a chew toy.
Bailey Mae and Jeb are distractions for each other.
Offer lots of “Good Boy” or “Good Girl” and rubs between the ears.
Challenge their minds by teaching them a new trick (sit, stay, shake) or take them to a class or agility course.
Continue to love your pet and recognize that while we may adapt to our ever-changing lives, our pets may have difficulties. Pay attention to their behavior and help them understand; you will be back to love them.