Dog owners dread leaving their furry buddies at home alone. Bidding them goodbye and hearing them whimper in response can be heartbreaking! The only thing owners can do is to put their mind at ease, knowing they’ll eventually return home.
But this is actually more than just missing each other. IFLScience elaborates on how much stress your dog goes through when it realizes it is left alone. It was revealed that the first 30 minutes of isolation is the most stressful for your pooch. For some dogs, however, the stress remains until the owner comes home.
You can detect the increase of stress levels by observing the dog even before you step out the door. Pet scientist Alice Potter explained, “The most common behavioral signs of separation-related behavior are destructive behavior often targeted at the door the owner leaves through, various types of vocalizations (howling, barking and whining), defecating and urinating.” Other signs are more subtle, like pacing and excessive salivation. Dogs may urinate as well to relieve the stress.
No matter how frequently you leave the house, your canine friends might still find it difficult to get used to being left alone. But they will pick up the cues that tell them you’re about to leave such as getting the keys, walking towards the front door, putting shoes on, and more. Once they are familiar with these signs, the stress then settles in earlier. Just like humans, some dogs handle it better than others.
There are several ways to make the situation less stressful for dogs. We’ve shared some advice here on DTB on how to keep clingy dogs comfortable when left alone. The gist is to train your dog in such a way that he or she will get used to not being around you. You can achieve this by rewarding them when they stay put. It’s also recommended to leave a lot of dog toys to keep them occupied. This way, there will be less destruction on house furniture.
Another great way to lower a dog’s stress levels is to take him or her out for a walk before you leave. Exercise can help calm the dog by tiring him or her out, meaning he or she may take a nap while you’re away. This can also keep the dog’s brain healthy, in the same way a person feels exhilarated after a good workout. In case you’ll be too busy to do this on your own, BetaKit suggests an alternative would be to get in touch with a dog walker. They mentioned Go Fetch as an example, which allows owners to browse through profiles of “walkers”. This is to give an owner the chance to assess the person, which is a potentially good match for their beloved pet. As for your part on the other hand, you must first consider if your pup is well-socialized.
Realistically speaking, you can’t always take your dog with you in every vacation. Thankfully for times like these, solutions such as the ones highlighted above can help alleviate your fur baby’s separation anxiety.