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A few tips on separation anxiety and how to reduce loneliness for your dog while you're out!

I'm sure many of you can relate to the daily words we have to say to our beloved furries... “Be good, I’ll miss you, I’m sorry I have to leave you today”

As we close the door we wonder what they’re up to all day when we're gone. Are they wandering aimlessly from room to room? Lounging on the couch? Gazing at the door? Is my dog lonely?

Here are signs your dog might be lonely:

* Chewing and other destructive behaviors

* Barking or howling constantly

* Pacing or hiding

* Potty accidents

* Reduced appetite

It’s heartbreaking to see a dog suffer while their people are gone, but what’s a working dog mom or dad to do? Thankfully, there are ways to alleviate loneliness and boredom, and make separation easier for everyone!

1) Create a secure “dog zone”

Even the sweetest, best-behaved dog can get lonely or cause trouble when left to their own devices. Having a 'safe zone' helps dogs feel secure. Most dogs, with training, will happily walk into their crate and curl up on a favorite blankie with a durable chew toy.

For dogs who need more space than a crate, choose a secure area of your home, whether it’s the entire living room, a bedroom, or a small portion of the kitchen sectioned off. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A crate if you’re crate training.

  • Baby gates! This pet gate is a fun, freestanding choice if your dog isn’t a jumper. If they are, you’ll need something higher.

  • Cozy items like blankets or your old unwashed shirts.

  • At least one bed.

  • Safe chews like Nylabones, Westpaw or Kongs. Remember that some chew toys present a choking hazard and shouldn’t be given unsupervised until you know how your dog does with these types of toys.

  • Puzzle toy or other favorite toy

2) Other distractions for lonely dogs

Start simple: you can leave a radio or television on to provide company and distraction. Some dogs will love the white noise, and what’s more, the sounds can help mask outdoor ones that set off barking in territorial pups.

From there, interactive or puzzle toys can be helpful. Some we like:

  • KONG and WESTPAW toys can be filled with treats, or for a challenge, put in the freezer.

  • A shuffle bone dog puzzle takes a little training for some pups, but it’s a lot of fun once they get it down.

3) Separation training for your dog

Just because they're not scattering your stuff all over the floor, doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t miss you while you’re gone.

If your dog goes into mourning every time you leave the room, it’s important to teach them that your absence is not the end of the world. Start a training routine to help them get used to temporary separation. As with any training, it’s important to work gradually and consistently.

  • Start by asking your dog to “stay” in one room or their crate (preferably her “dog zone”) while you’re home with them, for short periods of time.

  • Gradually lengthen the distance and time of your separation until you can leave them alone for 20+ minutes without incident.

It may take some time, but separation exercises will help to calm your dog in your absence, giving them a task to focus on, as well as teaching them that when you leave, you’re not leaving for good. **Remember, never use their 'Dog Zone' as punishment or time out for being naughty!!!! It's supposed to be a happy, safe place.

4) Get by with a little help from your friends

The best cure for loneliness is companionship. When possible, popping by your house at some point during the work day gives your dog a break from solitude. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, your dog will appreciate the company, attention, and quick game or activity.

If your schedule makes it difficult to do this, consider booking a trusted pet care provider. You can opt for a full doggy daycare experience, or simply have someone swing by for a walk. 'Kootenay Canine Adventures' operates in Kimberley and Cranbrook and they will come pick your furry up and take them for pack walks! Great for exercise and socilaization!

5) CBD Oil

CBD oil is growing rapidly in popularity because of it's success in helping pets not only with anxiety, but with all sorts of medical ailments! Want more info? Pop in to Kimberley Kritters and we'll tell you more!

6) The bottom line

In a perfect world, we would all get to spend every single day with our dogs, but the reality is, separation happens. With preparation, training, and a little help, your time apart can be cheerful and worry-free—making your time together all the more sweet.

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