Separation anxiety can be a very real problem for dog owners, especially when their animal is young. Here are some proven strategies to alleviate your dog’s feeling of unease, and to make leaving the house easier than ever before.

Give your dog a toy they don’t normally get when you’re there

The goal is to make your leaving the house a pleasurable experience for your animal. That’s difficult, since dogs crave company, but you can go some way to bridging this gap by leaving them a special toy that they don’t normally get. A meaty, chewy toy, for instance. Whenever you leave, lay it out for them, and when you return, put it away. That way, the animal associates your exit with the arrival of their fun game.

Take them to daycare, or get a pet sitter

Daycare boarding centers like Under One Woof are designed for owners with busy lives. Your dog will be surrounded by likeminded, happy doggos who want nothing more than to have a good time. It’s a great social exercise, but if there isn’t a daycare center near you, consider a house sitter instead. Dogs shouldn’t be left unsupervised day after day. Even if they’re well trained, they’ll begin to suffer from feelings of boredom and loneliness.

Exercise your dog before you leave the house

Consider rising early and taking your dog for a strenuous walk. The exercise will release feel-good hormones, and it’ll also tire your animal out. Then, when you’re out the house, you’re less likely to find she’s pawing at the door and barking for your return.

Don’t make a big fuss of the dog when you come home

Your returns to the house should be low-key – especially at first. Early on, you want to come in and make your entrance as inconspicuous as possible. The worst thing you can do is make a big fuss of your dog as she paws at you for attention. Consider even ignoring her until she’s calmed down after 30-40 minutes. The idea is to break the spell that your return to the house is a big deal. Because, in reverse, your leaving will trigger a similar response.

For serious anxiety, enlist the help of a professional

All dogs get a little bit of separation anxiety at first, but there are a few that never seem to get over it. In fact, these dogs can’t even enjoy an edible treat, and no amount of exercise seems to calm them down. In severe cases like these, you need to enlist the help of a professional. The trainer will give you a step by step strategy to help break the cycle. In the end, this is crucial, because no one can handle a dog that’s totally co-dependent on its owner. After all, we cant take them everywhere, and when a daycare center or dog sitter isn’t available, we want the peace of mind that they can cope alone for a few hours.

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