Are you headed back to work? Kids going back to in-person school? Your pet may be anxious and have issues when you’re suddenly gone for hours at a time again.
Most cats and dogs thrive on routine and live for the time they spend with you, so it’s important you know the signs of separation anxiety. Upset pets can not only do damage to your home and property but to themselves as well. Having accidents in the house, crate destruction, pacing, as well as chewing or scratching walls, doors and furniture are common signs of severe separation anxiety. Some dogs even get anxious when they notice the signals of their owner’s impending departure such as putting on a coat and grabbing keys.
Here are a few suggestions to help your pet adjust:
- Start as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the day before you return to your work routine. Ease super-attached furry friends into it by telling your pet to “stay” and then going to another room for a minute before calling them to you. Putting your pet in a separate room—with a favorite toy or long-lasting treat for 10-20 minutes may help as well.
- Let your companion practice being alone. After starting with going to another room for a few minutes, try to work for few hours each day in a different room.
- Leave the house. Leave the house for short periods of time, but don’t go far. If your pet begins to bark, howl, meow, or whine while you’re away for those few minutes, wait until it’s quiet before going back in. Gradually increase the time you are gone.
- Make leaving a non-event. Don’t acknowledge or say goodbye when you go. Yes, it’s hard not to tell them you love them, to be a good girl or boy, and that you’ll be home soon—but it’s necessary.
- Take your little one for a walk, run or some other energy-burning exercise before you leave. This is extremely helpful in reducing stress. Especially with dogs, a tired pup has a much greater chance of being calm.
- Enrich their environment. Try interactive games, puzzles and toys to keep your pet occupied. These toys and games don’t have to be expensive, and there’s plenty of more advanced entertainment available.
- Long-lasting treats or activities. Give your dog a stuffed Kong every time you leave, or leave your kitten with an interactive toy, and your pet will soon look forward to your leaving!
- Leave music or the television on. Find something soothing to keep them company while you are gone.
- For dogs, try a comfort vest like a ThunderShirt, which helps calm a lot of dogs when used properly.
- Try herbal solutions and pheromones. Adaptil or D.A.P. products can help create a calm environment. Over-the-counter products containing alpha-casozepine and/or L-theanine are safe and effective for mild anxiety.
- Sign up for daycare. Running and playing with other animal friends may make your pet too tired to miss you.
- Be patient. It may just take time to adjust to your new schedule.
We’re here to help. If you’ve tried these tips but your pet is still exhibiting anxiety or destructiveness, we can help by prescribing medications. Give us a call at (404) 255-8522 to schedule an appointment.