When it comes to anxiety in dogs, separation from their beloved humans is the most common trigger. The symptoms can range from mildly inconvenient to dangerous, destructive behaviors. No matter the severity, watching your dog suffer is heartbreaking. Luckily, there are several options to help ease your dog’s stress, including toys. The right dog toys reduce anxiety by encouraging anxious pups to redirect their nervous energy onto healthy, constructive activities.
What Triggers Separation Anxiety In Dogs?
Certain breeds have a genetic predisposition for separation anxiety due to their highly active or social personalities. For example, sledding and herding breeds like Huskies and Border Collies find being cooped up inside an apartment all day very distressing. Super-social “velcro dogs” like Yorkies and Chihuahuas are also prone to separation-related stress.
If your dog has recently developed separation anxiety, ask yourself if any of the following triggers apply:
- Being left alone for the first time
- Change of ownership
- Recent transition from a shelter to a home
- Change in family routine or schedule
- Loss or illness of a family member
What Are The Signs?
Anxious dogs may whine, bark, howl, drool, pant, pace or shake as you prepare to leave the home. Those with more severe cases may continue these behaviors long after you leave. They may also chew furniture, tear carpeting or otherwise destroy items in the home. Some have “accidents” despite being potty trained, or scratch up windows and doors in an attempt to escape.
What Can You Do To Help?
Anxiety in dogs can have serious consequences. Dogs that nervously chew carpet may choke or suffer life-threatening intestinal blockages. Escape artists may dart past your legs when you open the door, becoming lost (or worse).
For these reasons, dogs displaying signs of separation anxiety should see the vet to rule out medical issues. Your vet can also refer you to a behavior specialist, help with counter-conditioning techniques or prescribe anti-anxiety medications.
If the problem is mild, the following tricks may help:
- Avoid making a big production out of leaving or returning to the home. As hard as it may be to ignore your dog in these moments, your calm energy will hopefully rub off on him.
- Place a recently used blanket or item of clothing in your dog’s bed or crate. Your smell is soothing.
- Give your dog calming treats and supplements like those containing CBD extract or Tryptophan.
- Give your dog a Puzzle Toy or one stuffed with his favorite treats to occupy his mind while you are gone.
How Can Dog Toys Reduce Anxiety?
The right dog toys reduce anxiety by giving your pup something exciting to focus on rather than your absence. It is important to keep them out of your dog’s reach until the moment you are ready to leave the home. This ensures your dog looks forward to these toys as rewards.
It also creates a positive association in the dog’s mind during an otherwise stressful moment: Mom/Dad is leaving, but I get fun toys and delicious treats!
Thinker Toys like the “Dog Hide n’ Slide Puzzle” challenge your pooch to paw or nose open the sliding panels to reveal hidden treats. Puzzle Toys are perfect for the anxious pooch who’s also a smartypants.
For more rambunctious pups, try a Super Chewer toy like “Cal the Caterpillar“. He’s sure to hold your anxious dog’s attention when filled with treats or peanut butter. Toss him, bounce him, paw him, gnaw him – Cal is built to endure it all!
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H/T to WebMD Pets