Separation anxiety is a real concern for most pet owners with research suggesting over 40% of pets suffer. Holly from the Get Set Pet team shares some handy tips to keep your pet happy and separation anxiety free.
During lockdown many of us welcomed a new furry friend into the family - whilst everyone was home it was the perfect time! However, with the easing of the restrictions here in the UK we are going back to some sort of normality which is a huge concern for our pets who have become so familiar with constant human company. The thought of leaving our pets causes us as owners significant stress with the risk of separation anxiety so high. The good news is there are many things we can do to help prevent this, and for our precious pets prevention is much better than cure.
Building it up
Getting your pet used to the idea of your absence can be done by leaving them alone for short periods of time, gradually increasing it over a number of days and weeks. If your animal is particularly anxious about you leaving his side even for a minute, start off by leaving them for just five minutes at a time and slowly build on this. This will reassure your pet that you will return. When you do return it’s key to carry on as normal. If you make a big deal about returning or leaving them, they will see it as something to get worked up about.
Sticking to a routine
We as humans like a routine and this is no different for our pets who need an established structure to thrive. You may notice that your pet hassles you for dinner or for a walk, this is not because they can tell the time but because this is how you as their owner has conditioned them. If you abandon the schedule, this can cause your pet’s stress levels to increase due to the sudden unpredictability. This can result in various different behaviours, some of which are difficult for us as owners to manage. Keeping a consistent routine for walks, returning home and food is incredibly important for avoiding separation anxiety and ultimately leaves you with a much happier pet!
Exercise and boredom busters
Exercise is so important for our pets and is a crucial part of their routine, and vital for their physical and mental wellbeing. For dogs, it is particularly important that they have been walked prior to being left alone in the home since this helps reduce their energy levels. In addition, keeping their minds busy and engaged helps avoid destructive behaviour fed by anxiety and boredom. Interactive toys, stuffed, scratchers and frozen Kongs, treat balls and long-lasting chews are all a great way of keeping your pets’ mind busy and engaged.
Bringing an additional pet into the home to keep your current pet company seems like the ideal fix, however this isn’t always the case. If your pet is suffering from separation anxiety bringing another pet into the household could actually upset the dynamics and make the situation worse, not better. In this case it’s important to get on top of your pet’s separation anxiety before bringing an additional animal into the home. However, if you are looking to prevent separation anxiety, and are in a position to introduce a new pet into the home then a friend for your pet is almost always a great idea since they can provide each other with emotional support and attention and of course a play buddy which helps reduce boredom and anxiety.
There are many calming products available to buy which can help reduce your pet’s anxiety, such as calming sprays, plug-ins, treats, calming vests and even shampoo to name a few! None of the calming products available to buy are an instant fix to your pet’s anxiety, however they can reduce it making it easier for both you and your pet to cope with. All pets are unique, meaning what works for one won’t necessarily work for another.