My decision to live alone once I moved out of my parents’ house came as a surprise to no one. As a well-known introvert, it would have been more startling to my family and friends had I chose to find a roommate or rent a room in a house. I enjoy spending time by myself. Social media and cell phones keep me connected when I want to be. Admittedly, I’m sometimes a slave to my phone and am planning to make time in my schedule for a technology Sabbath.
Living only an hour away means that when I need face-time with my family, I can always go home for a few hours. More importantly, I knew I really wouldn’t be living alone. And no, I’m not haunted by ghosts or have imaginary friends. Just my fluffy little dog, Cloe (pronounced like Chloe).
Cloe was my twelfth birthday present and I named her after a Bratz doll, which accounts for the strange spelling. She’s been my baby for a long time and I’m thankful that she isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. That being said, our move from a single family home with a half-acre yard to an apartment has had its ups and downs.
Overall, Cloe loves having me all to herself. Before she’d have to share my attention with three other dogs, two of which are rambunctious puppies. Now we spend all our time together uninterrupted. Unfortunately, Miss Cloe has been suffering from a severe case of separation anxiety. I came home a little over a week ago to the first inches of snow gathering at the start of a blizzard and my neighbor telling me that my dog had been crying all day. A few days later as I was digging out my car, my other neighbors relayed the same message.
Worrying about Cloe is now causing me separation anxiety. But we’re working together to help her cope with missing her mama during the day. Here’s what I’ve found helps to deal with separation anxiety for both of us.
4 Ways to Help Your Dog Cope With Separation Anxiety
Providing peanut butter toys
I’m currently working on getting Cloe a Kong to stuff with treats and other frozen puppy snacks, but in the mean time I’m taking peanut butter and slathering it all over her nylabones before putting them in the freezer to harden. The goal is to associate my leaving with her getting a special treat. So far she’s been thrilled to get them and quietly works on licking the peanut butter off as I walk out the door.
Playing soothing music for dogs
Yes, this is a thing. I listen to relaxing YouTube videos pretty frequently so I guess it makes sense that they’d have soothing playlists for pups with separation anxiety too. I played one during the day today and while I’m not sure how effective it’s been for her just yet, I know the soothing music eased my worries.
Ignoring her until she calms down
When I walk in the door, Cloe immediately starts crying her heart out. My maternal instinct is to run to her and apologize for being a bad mama, but everything I’ve researched says that this type of behavior is only encouraging her to cry. In her doggie mind, she’s thinking that when she acts out, Mama will pay attention to her. It’s taken a lot to try to ignore her pitiful cries and excitement that I’m home, but I’m hoping it’ll keep her calmer in the long run.
Making the crate feel safe
Cloe stays in a pink crate during the day to make sure she doesn’t destroy anything in the apartment. I’ve considered leaving her out, but she has a history of tearing up carpeting and linoleum. Better safe than sorry. When I’m home with her, I leave the crate door open and keep her toys inside so she feels comfortable going in and out. We’ve reached the point where I can tell her to go in her crate and she willingly goes.
I’ll probably have to keep changing my methods as we both get used to our new lifestyle, but right now, these techniques are at least proving to be somewhat effective. If you’ve had a dog with separation anxiety and have any tips on how to help cope, please share in the comments!