It’s the time of year when work and school are back in full swing. Our pets are now sitting at home, alone, anxiously awaiting our return from the daily duties that life demands. Unfortunately, many pets can develop a problem known as separation anxiety that leads to unwanted behavior, including chewing, restlessness, barking, and urinating or defecating in the home. Knowing how to help your pet cope with the new routine of your absence can greatly improve their mental health and well-being.
What you can do…
The first thing you can do to help accustom your pet to a new routine is to keep as regular a schedule as possible. Animals have finely tuned internal clocks and quickly become used to routine schedules. As always, ensure your pet is getting enough exercise. This is especially important when you are away from the home during the day. Try to get the longest walk, jog, or run in with your pet before leaving the home, as this will deplete a lot of pent up energy that would otherwise be expended through anxious behavior.
Toys, bones, and chews are another component that can help keep your dog busy during the hours you’re gone. You can even purchase “food puzzles” at pet stores that are particularly good at keeping your pet’s attention for extended periods of time.
Some pets may respond well to confinement during the time periods when you are away. Dogs can be crate trained, seeing it as a safe place, finding comfort inside. Others may be restricted to the kitchen, or specific areas of the home. Again, this depends on the personality of your pet, which means some experimentation may be necessary.
Doggy daycares are a relatively new option that are working great for some families. Like with anything however, it is important to maintain a regular schedule and routine.
If your pet does not respond well to any of the aforementioned methods, it may be time to seek out professional help. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat severe issues of separation anxiety, with medications most often used to relieve their symptoms of anxiety and depression. Although, this should be your last resort, as it is always healthier to utilize natural methods of physical and mental care.
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