There are a lot of benefits of having a dog in our lives. But there are also a lot of stressors in today’s world that not only affect you but affect your dog. Especially if there are lots of changes happening. So let’s look at reducing anxiety in dogs during times of uncertainty.
Leaving your dog at home alone for long periods of time – such as going to work – or not socializing with new people or other animals can lead to a stressful dog. The behaviors associated with stress range from nervousness to fear-based aggression.
We generally associate stress with a situation – work deadlines, or paying bills. But anything that upsets the body’s hormone balances causes stress. A stressor results in the release of glucose to provide a burst of energy designed to help escape the stressor. It allows us to fight, flight or freeze.
A stressor can be a physical threat, such as a predator, or an unpredictable environment. Any change in a routine is a stressor that occurs in all animals. This is especially noticeable in a feeding schedule.
Is your pet showing signs of stress?
Destructive behavior or vocalizing are obvious signs of stress in your dog. The more subtle signs of anxiety are panting or drooling, pacing, repeatedly checking windows and doors, or chewing or scratching themselves.
Dogs with separation anxiety will show extreme cases of stress when their owner leaves the house or even while their owner is preparing to leave. They will try to prevent their owner from leaving.
From the moment the owner leaves, the dog will begin barking and displaying other distress behaviors, such as chewing, especially close to exit points.
Tips for reducing anxiety in dogs
If you fear that your dog has separation anxiety, please contact your vet or dog behaviorist for professional guidance to help your dog when you need to leave the house.
The good news is that it is never too late to help your dog and to teach them vital skills that they can apply in any situation.
If you know that your routine will change and that you will start spending more time outside of the house, now is the time to start preventative measures.
You can help increase their ability to cope with being left alone by introducing periods of separation during the day while you are in the house. This could be done by placing them behind a baby gate.
You could leave your dog at home for short periods of time. And gradually build up the amount of time your dog is alone away from family members. Reassure them that it is okay with something positive, such as a long-lasting treat.
If they show signs of anxiety, shorten the time you leave them alone and build it up again.
You need to monitor them and ensure that they know that you are coming back. Look at ways to reduce your dog’s boredom. Exercising them before leaving will help tire them out. Then they will more likely want to sleep for the rest of the day.
There are no “quick-fix” solutions to this. Please avoid anti-bark collars or punishing your dog when you return for their behavior. Besides not reducing anxiety in dogs, this will result in more serious and more difficult to treat the problem in the long term.
Therefore these things take time and your dog needs your patience to help them relax. These tips will help show your dog that being left alone is not stressful and can prevent serious problems.
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