According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, between 20% and 40% of dogs in North America are diagnosed by animal behaviorists as having separation anxiety. With COVID keeping us at home more than normal, it’s likely our pets have grown more accustomed to our presence on a day-to-day basis. While perhaps one positive that has come out of stay-at-home orders is the ability to see our pets more, the constant attention they receive when we are home can lead to a heightened sense of anxiety when we leave.
In fact, since COVID restrictions began in March, more and more dog owners report that their pet now experienced worsened separation anxiety compared to the pre-COVID era. We know that separation anxiety can take a real toll on both ourselves and our pets, which is why our team compiled a list of five straightforward ways to calm your anxious pet if your increased time at home has escalated their attachment to their owners.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
One of the greatest culprits of dog anxiety is a lack of exercise. Our active breeds that naturally need to run, play and explore every day can experience great restlessness if they are not getting their energy out. If your pet becomes distressed, hyper or even vocal when you need to leave your house, consider taking them for a walk right before you know you have to leave. Even a brief 20-minute walk before you leave your house can rid the excess energy from your pet and help them wind down while you get your errands done.
If your pet is the nervous type, try upping their general exercise for a few weeks and see if it helps soothe their restlessness. If your pet is physically able, take them on more frequent walks, increase the number of trips to the dog park, let them roam your (fenced-in) backyard and play a game of fetch when you get home from work. The more energy your dog burns, the more tranquil they will feel on the day-to-day.
Give your Dog a Safe Space
It is crucial that your dog have a safe space where they can unwind. They need a confined space, a cave of sorts, where they can feel secure—it’s in their nature. Many dog owners who use the crate as a punishment end up with a stressed-out dog who feels dread when they have to go in their crate. As a result, they may associate their crate with punishment even though it is supposed to be their safe space. If your dog has separation anxiety, it is important that you don’t use the crate as a punishment, but rather help them get positively acquainted with their crate. Warm them up to their designated “puppy place” by rewarding them with toys or treats to chew on while they’re in the space. Keep it in a quiet spot of the home where they won’t be easily stimulated. Whether or not you choose to crate your dog when you leave the house, creating a designated spot in your home where your dog always goes to unwind can help calm their separation anxiety immensely when you leave the house.
Play Music or Keep the TV On
While we just mentioned the benefit of keeping your dog’s safe space quiet and serene, some dogs need sound in order to relax while their owner is gone. For example, playing light music, starting a podcast or turning on the TV for your pet while you’re away can distract them away from their stress. The light sounds of humans talking on the television can soothe your pup and make them feel like they are less alone! See if this helps with their anxiety and calms their nerves while you are gone.
Start Small and Build Up
Ultimately, retraining your pet to manage their separation anxiety will not happen overnight, but there are small steps you can take that will compound into significant results down the road. If your pet currently hates their crate, start small with food and toy rewards when they enter their crate willingly and without a fuss. If they’re overly hyper due to a lack of exercise, try starting out with short walks and build up from there. Very importantly, do not make an ordeal when you leave. Do not excessively say goodbye to your dog, prolong the exit or make it a big deal. Just leave your home and downplay the event. Treat returning to your home the same way. Little acts like entering your home without fanfare will help your dog stay calm and not become overly excited or hyper when you return. If your dog can understand that you coming and going is not a big deal, they will experience less anxiety over it as a result.
De-Stress with Springtime Supplements
Ultimately, these de-stressing tactics will likely work in the long run, but sometimes your pet still needs an extra boost of relaxation. Stress Free Calmplex® for Dogs is a safe and natural supplement made with high-quality ginseng to help manage stressful situations and separation discomfort. Without sedation, Stress Free Calmplex® supports your pet’s ability to manage events like boarding, guests, vet visits and separation and they come in easy-to-give, liver-flavored chewables. Try them out today here. Interested in viewing our extensive line of natural supplements for dogs, horses and people? Click here to visit our website today: https://www.springtime.com/