While many furparents wish they could be at home with their furbabies 24/7, responsibilities such as work, errands, and grocery shopping pull us away from them. A sharp change in routine can be extremely stressful for our dogs, especially when they’re unable to understand when we’ll return. The result of this stress is separation anxiety; whether it appears in the form of crying, barking, chewing of shoes, or attempts to escape. Separation anxiety is a common but difficult condition many dogs and owners face. It can be distressing not only for your dog, but also leave you as an owner feeling guilty for going out and leaving your best friend at home.
Some furparents are able to permanently modify their schedules to stay at home with their pets, hire a dog sitter, or take their dog to day care, however this is not possible for everyone. The good news is we do have ways of adjusting, training and desensitizing most cases of separation anxiety to make your dog feel secure and safe without you there.
We spoke to Dr. Christine Bobula, who is a veterinarian in Whittier, California. She provided some steps that furparents can take to prevent separation anxiety.
First, you should speak with your local vet:
“I would definitely recommend, if possible, to set up an appointment with your veterinarian to involve them in the process and also ensure that your dog is overall healthy, with no other co-existing medical conditions before beginning behavioral modification techniques for separation anxiety.”
Second, start slow:
“A slow adjustment is best when dealing with separation anxiety. To go from being together 24 hours a day, to having their owner missing for 8-12 hours a day is a big shock for a dog with separation anxiety. Start off by doing short outings during the day. Start small with only being gone a few minutes. As your dog grows accustomed to your short absences and sees that you invariably do return each time, you can slowly start to increase the duration of your absences."
Third, make them comfortable in a crate or free-roaming environment:
“The key to this strategy is to ensure your dog is comfortable when you leave. For every dog, how you make them feel comfortable is different. Some dogs will actually be more comfortable (and less destructive) if confined to a crate or pen. An unwashed piece of clothing can be placed with the dog, together with appropriate chew toys such as Kongs. Crate confinement is only effective and humane if the dog has had an opportunity to learn it is a place of relaxation and comfort.”
Furbo Dog Nanny’s cloud recording feature allows you to review recorded videos of your pup from while you were away. By observing how your dog acted in their environment, and how comfortable they were, you can make adjustments to their crate or free-roam space.
Fourth, create a safe & fun space:
“Some dogs are not kennel trained or do better outside a kennel. If your dogs falls into this category, another option is to provide a doggy door so that your dog can choose to be inside or out. You would need to monitor his/her initially to ensure he/she does not cause damage indoors, but this increased access can be enough to solve the problem of anxiety for some dogs. The Furbo camera is actually also a helpful tool in this situation as you can check in on your dog while you are gone, reassure them with your voice, and reward good quiet behavior with treats. If leaving any treat or toy alone with your dog, please consult a veterinarian if it is safe to do so. Some common treats that occupy our pets' time can pose hazards.
By making your absence associated with fun toys or delicious treats, you can eventually change your dogs feeling about your absence and make it something pleasant. It is also helpful to give a command when leaving. We call this a departure or safety cue. It is used to help allow your dog to know what is happening and to relax while you're gone.”
With Furbo’s treat tossing features and even Alexa skills integration, you may create different routines for your pup. For example, before you leave, keep your pup safe and calm by creating a routine that automatically turns on Furbo and plays calming music with Alexa when you give the command.
Fifth, keep it cool:
“When you are home, your dog should learn that calm, patient behavior is rewarded. Your dog can learn that attention and good things come when a settled, relaxed response is offered. For example, before giving them their dinner have them sit quietly before putting down the bowl. Have them sit quietly before opening the door to go out. Spontaneous calm behaviour should also be rewarded for example, lying in a bed or crate, or relaxing calmly at the owner's feet are the behaviors that should earn rewards.
Most dogs with separation anxiety disorder will be very excited when their owner returns home. Unfortunately this excited behavior should not be encouraged. When coming home, you should briefly acknowledge your dog but then give them time to settle before further interactions.”
Sixth, if all else fails:
If this all fails, consult your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to discuss a customized plan for your dog.
How Furbo Can Help:
Dr. Christine Bobula says that by placing a Furbo Dog Camera near the kennel or in the living space of your pup, you can check in periodically with voice or treat rewards for good, quiet behavior.
“Furbo is helping me stay in touch with my furbabies by letting me check in and reward them when I am gone.”
In addition to being able to watch live video, talk to your pup, and toss treats, Furbo provides Barking Alerts which notify you when your furbaby may be getting in trouble.
Haven’s furmom, Tina, used to receive complaints that Haven would cry and howl after she’d left for work. Tina quickly realized that she had to create a solution for Haven’s separation anxiety. Tina began using Furbo to ease Haven’s anxiety by talking to her once she received a Crying Alert. Since creating this communication with Furbo, Haven’s separation anxiety has greatly improved!
The Furbo Dog Nanny is a dog-monitoring service that helps look after your dog and keep them safe at home. With Smart Alerts and Cloud Recording Videos you can know exactly what’s going on at home and be alerted of emergencies in real time, and play back important moments you may have missed.