Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Provide Plenty of “Jobs” for Your Dog to Do
Providing lots of physical and mental stimulation is a vital part of
treating many behavior problems, especially those involving anxiety. Exercising
your dog’s mind and body can greatly enrich his life, decrease stress and
provide appropriate outlets for normal dog behaviors. Additionally, a
physically and mentally tired dog doesn’t have much excess energy to expend
when he’s left alone. To keep your dog busy and happy, try the following
- Give your dog at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity (for example, running
and swimming) every day. Try to exercise your dog right before you have to
leave him by himself. This might help him relax and rest while you’re
- Play fun, interactive games with your dog, such as fetch and tug-of-war. To
learn more about these games, please see our articles,Teaching
Your Dog to Play Tug-of-War and Teaching Your
Dog to Play Fetch.
- Take your dog on daily walks and outings. Take different routes and visit
new places as often as possible so that he can experience novel smells and
- If your dog likes other dogs, let him play off-leash with his canine
- Frequently provide food puzzle toys, like the KONG, the Buster Cube, the
Tricky Treat Ball™ and the Tug-a-Jug™. You can feed your dog his meals in these
toys or stuff them with a little peanut butter, cheese or yogurt. Also give
your dog a variety of attractive edible and inedible chew things. Puzzle toys
and chew items encourage chewing and licking, which have been shown to have a
calming effect on dogs. Be sure to provide them whenever you leave your dog
alone. Please see our article, How to Stuff a KONG
Toy, for more information.
- Make your dog “hunt” his meals by hiding small piles of his kibble around
your house or yard when you leave. Most dogs love this game!
- Enroll in a reward-based training class to increase your dog’s mental
activity and enhance the bond between you and your dog. Contact a Certified Pet
Dog Trainer for group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of
great skills to learn and games to play together. After you and your dog have
learned a few new skills, you can mentally tire your dog out by practicing them
right before you leave your dog home alone. Please see our article, Finding Professional
Help, to locate a CPDT in your area.
- Get involved in dog sports, such as agility, freestyle (dancing with your
dog) or flyball.
To learn about more great way to give your dog the mental and physical
exercise he needs, please see our articles, Enriching Your Dog’s
Life and Exercise