Your pet’s separation anxiety can be a heartbreaking behavior issue to deal with, as well as being potentially dangerous for your pet. The following are recommendations on how to help your pet be less anxious when you leave them.
Desensitize your pet to your “getting ready” routine. It is common for pets to pick up on their owner’s routine before leaving the house. This routine may cause anxiety to ensue. On days when you have some free time, I recommend doing exercises where you practice your entire routine to get ready to leave the house and then don’t actually leave the house. (Example: do your makeup, brush your teeth, put on shoes, put your purse over your shoulder, pick up your keys, etc.) This will desensitize your pet to your routine. After they start to realize that the specific tasks you do before leaving the house don’t actually mean you are going to leave, they will be more calm once you actually do leave the house.
Leaving the house exercises. Once you have desensitized your pet to your getting ready routine, you can start doing exercises where you leave the house for very short periods of time. Start by leaving the house for only a minute or two and then walk back inside. Slowly increase the duration you are gone until your pet is comfortable being left for longer and longer periods.
- Crate train your dog. Once a dog is crate trained, the crate becomes a “safe zone” for them and they tend to stay calmer when left alone.
- Place a comfy bed or blanket in the crate (as long as your dog will not tear it up when left unattended) and drape a sheet or thin blanket over the top of the crate.
- Have your dog on leash and their reward (i.e. high value treats, toy, etc.) in hand.
- Use a command word (“Kennel”, “Crate”, “In”, etc. ), point into the crate and lead them inside.
DO NOT pull them by their collar or pick them up and put them inside. It is important that they walk in and do not associate anything negative with their crate. If they will not go in, try tossing a treat (or whatever motivates them) inside to entice them to go in on their own.
- Once they go in the crate, give them their reward and praise them.
- Continue doing this exercise. Before moving to the next step your dog should be following this command with ease and the crate should not be causing any stress.
- Next, after they go in the crate, close the crate door momentarily (do not lock), give them the reward and immediately reopen door. Repeat this exercise a few times. It is important that they stay calm when the door is closed.
- Continue practicing closing door and add in locking the door, momentarily. Gradually increase the time the door stays locked. (If at any time this causes your dog stress, take a step back and take the training process slower.)
Note: Once crate trained, your dog should be calm in the crate. If they are at all anxious, they are not fully crate trained. It is key to make sure to take the training process slowly and not to rush your dog. Placing your dog’s favorite toys or a kong toy stuffed with their favorite treats in the crate will cause them to start associating positive things with the crate.
Feed your pet from a puzzle feeder or treat ball when you leave the house. This will help take their mind off of the fact that you are leaving and will also cause them to associate something positive with you leaving.
- Kong/treat balls
Kong stuffing ideas:
- Peanut Butter
- Canned food
- Cottage cheese
***Freeze your stuffed Kongs to make them last longer!
***You can fill the Kong Wobbler and treat balls with treats, kibbles, cut veggies, etc. (Anything that is in small pieces and dry that can be knocked out of the small hole.)
- Smart Cat Peek and Play Toy Box
- SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser
- Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree
***Feed kibble or treats from your cat’s puzzle feeders or treat ball.