Dogs are pack animals and benefit hugely from social contact with humans and other animals. They thrive on companionship, which is why they’re popularly known as ‘man’s best friend’.
While many dogs cope well with being left alone for a few hours, no dog should be isolated for lengthy sessions, especially on a repeated basis.
Some dogs struggle with even short periods of loneliness – and this is known as separation anxiety. It’s worse for puppies and dogs adjusting to new homes, as they tend to lack confidence about their new surroundings.
If you think your pet is showing signs of separation anxiety, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly vet team in Corby to arrange a consultation and get advice.
Signs of separation anxiety in dogs
- Pacing, panting or scratching as you prepare to leave the house
- Following you around
- Whining, howling or barking
- Chewing items while you’re away, especially if the items have your scent
- Excitable behaviour on your return
Rockingham Road Vets' tips to avoid separation anxiety
Get your dog used to periods of time apart by spending time in separate rooms or areas (though not always the same ones). A baby gate can help to achieve this, in areas with no door.
Start with very short sessions and don’t make a fuss about it – give them a chew or toy and behave normally, but move elsewhere and make sure they can’t follow. And every time you do it, increase the length of time.
Once things have improved, try going out of the house for very short periods; then increase those too. Never make a big deal of your departure or return.
This process will be easier if you start when your dog is young, but is worth trying at any age.
Dogs left alone should always be provided with:
- A comfortable bed
- Plentiful fresh water
- A chew toy, as chewing is a calming activity for dogs
- A radio at a quiet volume, to provide comfort and soften other noises which might startle them
- Items which contain your scent – although ideally nothing that can be damaged by chewing!
If you’ve tried this approach and still feel your dog is severely distressed, please give us a call on 01536 407778 and we can book a time to talk to you in more detail.