How To Know If Your Dog Is Trying To Say, “I Miss You”
It’s not uncommon for your best friend to experience distress when you’re gone. In fact, 10% of dogs experience separation anxiety at some point in their lives. This kind of nervousness can be caused by many different scenarios. Some include:
Change in schedule – If you’ve been off work or out of work for a long period of time and then go back, your dog may experience separation anxiety.
Change in residence – A new, unfamiliar home can make a dog nervous, especially when they are alone.
Change in household membership – Either due to death or a family member moving away, your dog could develop separation anxiety.
Lack of human leadership – Dogs are pack animals and in a pack, the leader is allowed to leave. If you’re seen as the follower rather than the leader, your dog may become mentally distraught.
Common Signs of Separation Anxiety
Excessive barking, urinating, howling, chewing and digging does not always mean your pet is bad. This behavior can be a sign of separation anxiety, especially if your dog doesn’t act this way when you’re home.
Watch what your pets do when you are with them. If they follow you from room to room all the time, this means they are extremly dependent on you. Frantic jumping and excitement when you walk in the door could stem from them being nervous when you were gone. Pacing around, drooling or excessive barking when you’re trying to leave the house means your pets know they are going to be left alone.
What Not to Do
Never punish your pet for being destructive when you’re not home. For one, you should only scold a dog if you catch him in the act. Secondly, your dog is acting this way because he’s panicked, not because he’s trying to get revenge for being left alone.
Getting another dog may not always be the solution. If your pet’s anxiety is the result of his separation from you, another dog may not help.
How to Help Your Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety
The good news is that there are many things you can do so your pet isn’t so nervous when you’re gone. Here are a few techniques to try:
Leave your dog with an old t-shirt or an article of clothing you’ve recently worn. The scent of you can calm his nerves.
Feed your dog right before you’re ready to walk out the door. Eventually your dog could associate eating (a positive) with you leaving.
Try confining your pet in a crate or gated area. This will limit destructive behavior and provides a “den like” area where your dog will feel safe.
Teach commands like sit, down and stay. Practicing these commands will make you the “alpha dog” in your pet’s eyes. The more your dog sees you as the leader, the more he’ll give you the respect to come and go as you please.
When you walk in the door, don’t give your dog a lot of attention. Try ignoring your dog for the first few minutes or until he’s calmed down. Then pet him and give him attention.
If all else fails, make a visit to your vet and ask about an anti-anxiety medication. Only give what your vet prescribes. Never give your dog medicine without consulting with your vet.