Hey Mofo Friends!
What else can I do to ease my dog's separation anxiety?
This is the third and final post in my 3 part series on separation anxiety. In Part 1 we went over the benefits of physical exercise, crate use, and changing how you behave with your dog. Part 2 was a dip into the world of supplements and oils. Today in Part 3, we’re going to wrap it up by talking about the importance of mental stimulation.
As I mentioned in Part 1, mental stimulation is crucial in easing separation anxiety.
Remember exam days during school? You sat in one place still while you took your tests, but by the end of the day (if you’re anything like me) you were totally exhausted. The reason for this is mental stimulation, and our dogs’ brains work the same way.
Dogs are SMART. They just need our help to get them working out their brain. Mental exercise options include puzzle games, hunting for food, and my all-time favorite: obedience. Obedience commands like Sit, Down, Down-Stay, and Heel all take mental work. Teaching tricks also creates mental stimulation. If you'd like to improve your dog's obedience commands, check out my Basic Training class.
There are so many amazing new products on the market to try, but always opt for safe, sturdy toys to avoid choking hazards. If one toy doesn’t work, never despair – just try a different toy. What one dog loves, another will turn their nose up at.
Another super awesome product is the thunder shirt. They are a tad on the expensive side but if they work they are a lifesaver. The premise is the tightness or compression that gives security to your dog.
If you would like to test out the idea before you make the investment, simply use some old ace bandages or an old t-shirt. Make sure it is snug but not so tight that it cuts off circulation.
Like all new methods, this should first be tried while supervised. Whenever I get a new toy for my dogs I always make sure I’m home the first time they use it. You don’t want your mofo to freak out when you’re not home to help. Safety first!
If your purchase doesn’t work, PLEASE don’t throw it out! Donate it to a local dog rescue or to the ASPCA. They will be forever grateful. A little love goes a long way.
And that’s it. I highly recommend checking out Parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t already, but here is the quick and dirty take-away message of these posts. When dealing with a dog suffering from separation anxiety:
- Physical exercise and the power of the perfect crate work to your advantage.
- Changes in YOUR behavior (like waking up early to take your dog for a walk and holding back your attention before leaving) can make all the difference.
- Homeopathic remedies, supplements, essential oils, and CBD oils can dramatically reduce your dog’s anxiousness.
- Mental stimulation (including games, toys, and the all-mighty obedience training) helps your dog learn and relax.
- Physical and mental comfort (in the crate with relaxing music, wearing a thunder shirt) are the natural enemies of stress.
- Walk your dog. Walk your dog. WALK YOUR DOG!
Separation anxiety can be heartbreaking for you and for your dog – I hope the information from this series helps you feel empowered to diminish or alleviate your mofo’s stress.
Even if nothing seems to work at first, keep at it! With patience and persistence, you will eventually find some combination of the methods and products discussed that does make a difference. Keep an ongoing open dialogue with your vet about your dog’s symptoms and progress.
Everything is awesome. Now go walk your mofo 🙂
For more on commands, obedience, games, and basically everything you need to know about your dog and how to live your best pet-parent life, check out my online courses.