Separation Anxiety | CanadaVet
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Separation Anxiety

You come home from work to find your living room has been turned upside down and your garden has been destroyed.  Your neighbour pops around to tell you that your dog has been barking all day long driving the neighbourhood crazy.  Does this sound familiar?  If so, your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety. 

In nature dogs are never far away from their pack.  However on a daily basis most of us leave the house to go to work, to the shops or to exercise, leaving our pet’s home alone.  For some pets, this time alone can be spent exploring the yard or just relaxing under a tree, while for others, this time can be spent barking, howling, digging up the garden or trying to escape.  These disruptive behaviours are often indicators that your pet may suffer from separation anxiety; an emotional panic triggered by being left alone.  Other separation anxiety warning signs commonly displayed by pets can include excessive grooming / licking, loss of appetite, inappropriate urinating and physical illness.

What Causes Separation Anxiety?

There are several factors that may cause separation anxiety and they include:

  • Loss of an important person or group of people in your pet’s life
  • Moving to a new residence
  • An abrupt change in your schedule
  • Being left home alone for prolonged periods

Separation anxiety symptoms can often resemble boredom behaviors (chewing, digging, accidents in the house); however one defining factor that points to separation anxiety is that your pets behavior looks like an expression of distress at being left alone, rather than boredom.

Tips to Help Separation Anxiety:

Separation anxiety is a common problem among pet owners; and the best way to help your pet avoid separation anxiety is to ensure they have plenty of options to keep them occupied while you’re away. 

Interactive Food Toys
Frequently provide food puzzle toys for your pet to distract them from your departure.  The KONG Biscuit Ball, KONG Dental Stick and KONG Stuff A Ball will keep your dog busy for hours as they try to access the visible treats peeking out from the inside.  You can even make your dog ‘hunt’ for his treats by hiding these food puzzle toys around your house or yard. 

Try to exercise your dog in the morning before you leave to go to work.  30 minutes of aerobic activity may help your dog rest and relax when you’re gone.  Also keep them active by stimulating them with an assortment of different types of toys.  The Play N Learn Boredom Buster is ideal for dogs who love to toss and tug on their toys. Manufactured from durable reinforced oxford fabric,  this toy is specifically designed for your dog to pick up and throw.


Sounds and Sensitivity
Some pets start to get anxious when they believe their owner is about to leave.  They hear the car keys jingling and instantly start showing disruptive behaviours.  One way to overcome this is to fit your pet with a collar complete with a bell.  This may allow them to lessen their association of a jingling noise with your keys.  You can also practice desensitizing your pet from the sounds they relate with you by listening to the Dogs and Loud Noises CD. 

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