As pet owners, we feel guilty enough having to leave our pets home alone, but knowing that your pet is going through separation anxiety while you’re away is enough to make you feel doubly guilty. While separation anxiety is not uncommon, especially for dogs, it’s important to have your vet examine the symptoms of separation anxiety so you can rule out any possible medical conditions that may have similar symptoms.
Having your pet overcome their separation anxiety won’t happen overnight, but with patience and a few helpful coping mechanisms, your cat or dog will become more at ease when it comes time for you to leave.
By going for a long walk with your dog before you have to leave, you’re offering some physical and mental stimulation as well as putting your pup in a calmer state before you go.
You can also give cats a mentally stimulating environment by creating a viewing perch situated next to a window or by providing a cat tree, which will give them something to scratch, nap on, and climb.
No big farewells
Pets are very perceptive when it comes to reading our emotions. That’s why it’s important to treat leaving the house as a stress free event. That means no big goodbyes and keep the talking, petting, and eye contact to a minimum for 15 minutes before leaving and after entering the house.
Pets with separation anxiety will often pick up on a certain noise or action that indicates you’re about to leave (e.g., the sound of your keys, opening the door, or putting your shoes on). If your pet gets anxious at a particular trigger, try repeating the action a few times without actually leaving (e.g., picking up and putting down your keys). Eventually you can practice walking out the door and coming right back in, working your way up to 5-minute departures and gradually increasing the time you’re away.
Keep to a schedule
Pets love routine. Knowing that you leave and come home at the same time every day will offer some peace of mind for your pet. Try keeping to a regular schedule, and if you know your schedule will be unpredictable for a few days, have a family member or dog sitter stay with your dog.
A pet with separation anxiety may look for ways to relieve their stress, which can take the form of scratching, chewing or having accidents around the house. It’s important that you stay patient and not scold your pet. By working with your pet gradually, your dog or cat will eventually become more at ease and less anxious while you’re away.