Pet Appreciation Week, June 10-17, is a perfect opportunity for pup parents to show their furry friends how much they care. One way you can demonstrate your love is to help ease the common stress of separation anxiety. Approximately 15 percent of dogs suffer from this condition when their caretakers leave the house, but there are steps you can take to ensure your pup feels safe, loved and protected when you’re away from home.
Professional dog behavioral therapist, master trainer and the host of "It's a Dog's Life" on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius XM 110, Greg Kleva frequently deals with behavioral issues resulting from animal separation anxiety.
He offers the following advice to parents seeking ways to curb this behavior and show their pups love during Pet Appreciation Week:
- Take Charge: If your dog is confused about his role, he may think it’s normal to worry when you’re gone. Ignore your dog’s requests for petting, play, feeding, etc. and provide love on your terms. If you teach your dog to earn resources, he will understand who is responsible for keeping the “pack” safe.
- Monitor Behavior: Thanks to modern technology, pet parents can keep an eye on their pets remotely. Products such as VueZone allow users to set up small, wire-free cameras at home, and then check in remotely via the VueZone website or mobile apps for iPhone and Android. This provides an easy way to check-in on your pooch and find out exactly what he or she is up to while you’re away. You’ll be more relaxed if you know Fido is resting peacefully on his doggie bed and not chewing through a table leg.
- A Tired Dog is a Good Dog: Be sure your dog’s needs for physical (exercise) and mental (training, brain games, puzzle toys, etc.) stimulation are met. If your dog is exhausted in body and mind, she’ll be less likely to stress when you’re gone.
- Practice Makes Perfect: Rehearse separation at home so that your dog knows that it is normal and—most importantly—that you will always return. Get your dog used to being left alone by separating yourself from the dog at home, using crates, baby gates or even short trips out the front door.
- Mix it Up: Most of us repeat the same habits when walking out the door—picking up a purse, putting on sneakers, jingling the car keys. These cues can make your dog stress out or expect that you may be leaving. Try mixing up the sequence of events and doing those things at other times—for example, put on your sneakers then sit down and read a magazine. Also try recreating leaving the house for short periods of time frequently. Get your dog to learn that those events don’t mean you’re leaving, or that you’ll be gone long.
- Don’t Make a Big Deal: Make your coming and going a non-event. Specifically, don’t coddle your dog with sweet tones as you depart, and ignore your dog’s excited requests for attention when you return home. Spend five to 10 minutes unpacking your things, getting changed from your work clothes, checking the mail, or other tasks until your dog is calm, and then greet him.
- Flower Power: Consider all-natural stress relief and other remedies. Flower essences, herbals, dog appeasing pheromone, anxiety wraps, calming music or recorded ambient sound can help calm an anxious dog.
-- Special thanks to Dog Behavioral Therapist & Master Trainer Greg Kleva for these great tips. Make sure to follow his blog on Martha's site by clicking here!