As someone who has lived and worked with dogs for nearly four decades, I can say that when a dog is happy and well adjusted there is no greater joy in a person’s life. On the contrary, when your dog is stressed and anxious you can have no peace in your life. If you are ready for a healthy change in your life and the life of your dog the time has come to act.
Separation anxiety is the term used by animal professionals to describe the stress a dog feels when he/she is separated from those that he/she lives with. This can be a mild problem. The dog may act out by barking or pacing. It can also be quite a serious problem. The dog may become destructive. He/she may do damage to the home or to their own body.
No matter if the anxiety is low or high, as the dog’s guardian, you need to do all you can to help minimize you dog’s stress. There are a few steps you can take to help your dog relax. The first and most effective tool to dealing with stress in you dog is exercise. A tired dog is a good dog. You can get started right away, simply walk with your dog. Dogs are natural walkers. They will walk with you night or day, in sun or rain, even in snow.
Long walks are the best, at least an hour. Walking can relieve stress in both your dog and you. Try to build a routine of walking with your dog everyday before work. You can even add another shorter walk after returning home. Once you initiate your routine stick with it. Your dog will become accustomed to the stability of routine, the calming affects of walking, and you will see an improvement in his/her behavior.
The next step to reducing stress for your dog is to remain calm. Some of the highest stress times for your dog are when you leave the house and when you return. Think about how you leave and enter your home. Do you make a big production of it? One big no, no is to talk to your dog in an excited or angry voice when entering or leaving your house. It is best to simply ignore your dog for about fifteen minutes before you leave and another fifteen when you return. This sends a signal to your dog telling them that you coming and going is no big deal.
For dogs with extremely high anxiety levels you will want to continue a couple more steps. Step three is more exercise. I know it sounds simple but that really is what your stressful dog needs. If your schedule does not allow you to vigorously exercise your dog you may want to consider having a dog walker come to your house. Or better yet get your dog into a dog daycare. Your dog will get worn out while you are at work.
If you follow these steps and your dog is still having problems you will need step four, speaking to your veterinarian. As a last resort some very high stress dogs do need herbal supplements or medication, but these cases are rare. Most times exercise is the key.
Take these steps and start your new life with your dog today. Walk with your dog everyday. Don’t raise undo excitement when coming or going. Help your dog and yourself be stress free through exercise and calm behavior. Get started right away!