Separation anxiety in pets is manageable


How to Manage Separation Anxiety With Your Pet

Do you have to travel for work or to see family?

There are so many things to consider before leaving home for a vacation, a convention, a night out, or…

…and, if you’re leaving a four-legged companion behind, you have a few additional considerations.

Imagine if you simply left your young children alone without knowing where you were going to disappear, when you would return, or who would take care of them while you were gone.

There are no instructions on what to do, or not to do, or how to contact you for help if they need it.

He just left, not sure that his needs, questions and concerns were met.

Not good.

If you do that to your furry family member, they could experience separation anxiety, leading to bad behavior and health problems.

But separation anxiety in pets is manageable and preventable if you take the right approach.

It doesn’t even have to be a trip. It can be a change in your daily routine, such as going to the office, then working from home for several weeks, then back to the office.

Consider that changing your routines without talking to your pet about it is like changing your shift rotation and not telling your husband and kids!

Pets, like the human loved ones in your life, deserve to be ‘kept in the know’.

They are trusting you, and when you change your patterns and habits without warning or adequate provision for them, they should try to change with you.

Unfortunately, your coping mechanisms may be more destructive than what your family might employ…

Preventing separation anxiety in pets requires thought and care

You are the whole world to your dog…anxiety can affect him much more than other, more independent-minded pets.

And while cats try to sell themselves as aloof and uninterested unless you’ve filled the food dish or cleaned out the litter box, they also care about your schedule.

You may think that boarding your horse on a farm across town is a better option than your own little paddock because of the space to roam and the company of other horses…but they’ve grown accustomed to a certain daily pattern.

You are part of his flock. Their time apart from you can be stressful if they don’t know what is happening or why, or if they have questions or concerns.

I’m not suggesting that you can never change things up in your routines, or leave your pet with a sitter or kennel…but they need to be told what’s going on and why.

Treat your pet like someone who deserves to know what you know

Separation anxiety in pets arises when your pet feels like they have been left in the dark. So before you make any changes to your schedule, permanent or temporary, be sure to give them the details.

That means you have to tell them:

  • what to expect

  • when things will happen

  • who is involved

  • what you need from them

  • How do you want them to behave?

  • How long will you be gone or how long will this change last

  • Whether they are in a kennel or cared for in your home

  • when you come back

Giving your pet the courtesy of an explanation about how its environment or patterns will change will prevent separation anxiety…and the side effects.

Is your pet suffering from the stress of separation anxiety?

If you have a good relationship with your pet, you will be calm and content as you prepare for the change in your routines.

But, if you haven’t taken the time to communicate with them about your shared experiences, they will show some very clear signs that they are anticipating something bad to happen.

1. Gasps, zoomies, pee in all the wrong places.

Dogs will refresh themselves after a good workout by panting. And zoomies can be a sign that your pet is feeling happy-go-lucky.

But do they constantly pant, even though your home is a comfortable temperature?

Are they bouncing off the walls and furniture…every time you walk into the room?

Have they dumped food by the door or chosen a new bathroom that isn’t the litter box or patio? Maybe your closet, your pillow or behind the sofa?

Many of these behaviors can be signs of an underlying medical condition, such as possible heart failure or an infection.

By all means, take them to a vet if things like bladder control or vomiting are a problem.

But then take a big step back and assess what your pet might be trying to tell you if you’re in the midst of a major life change.

2. Going completely dumb.

Resist the urge to think, “Wow, I can’t believe the dog has been lying still for so long. It’s great that he’s so disciplined.”

If you’re trying to identify separation anxiety in pets, total stillness isn’t necessarily a sign of calm…

It may be that your pet has ‘shut down’ and is frozen due to his anxiety.

They are trying to reset themselves. Their apparent good posture and attentiveness may be a sign that they are feeling extremely scared. They are not sure how to deal with their fear.

Like a deer in headlights, they are trying to process the situation and don’t want to move until they have a plan of action.

3. Full of Tasmanian devil.

Your anxious pet feels left out and instead of retreating, he goes on the offensive in an effort to get your attention.

They suddenly start grinding up furniture, stealing food from the kitchen counter, randomly barking at people passing by the house.

You are worried about changes in your life, and this type of bad behavior may lead you to conclude that you suddenly have a bad pet.

The anger that you start to feel simply creates a negative feedback loop.

Your pet was already anxious, and now her human is angry…it’s a negative downward spiral down a nasty rabbit hole that can be hard to get out of.

Learning to communicate effectively with animals can relieve their stress…and yours

There is no need for either of you to feel anxious about the time you spend apart.

Dogs, especially, are highly social pack animals. If you’ve found a good boarding or daycare place for them to spend their time while you work or are on vacation, they’ll jump out of your car to run to the kennel.

And when you come back to pick them up, they’ll be just as happy to greet you and climb back into your car with the same enthusiasm and confidence to head home.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your dog, cat, horse or bird, the key is communication.

It doesn’t take long for a pet to tune in to your sense of well-being. And… while it may seem wrong, they really want to relieve your stress and pain.

They hope you pick up on the signals they send when they are also feeling anxious or in pain.

Advice to the wise: don’t let them down when they need you the most.

Whether you consult a pet communicator, invest time in learning to talk to animals yourself, or simply make an effort to read your pet’s cues more intently, you’ll have a richer relationship.

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