If you’re coming home to chewed shoes, cupboards flung open and contents strewn around, or complaints from neighbours about your pet making too much noise, it could be that they are suffering from anxiety.
Unlike boredom, which normally occurs hours after you’ve left, separation anxiety manifests immediately. But you can keep your pet comforted and entertained with the following ideas:
Perfect the exit
Practise leaving for a short time, says veterinarian Jeff Werber. Increase the length of your absences and your pet will learn that you will always return.
Wear them out
Exercise will help your furry friends sleep so they don’t worry when you’re gone, explains dog behaviourist Patricia Bentz.
Remove reminders of you
A ball or leash will remind a pet of her owner, setting off a wave of anxiety, so keep visible signs of your fun times together out of sight, says Werber.
Block out distractions
If Fido goes beserk at the sight of a courier on your doorstep, close the curtains to block the view. If your pet paces or vocalises at the sounds coming from the house next door, try combatting the sound with background noise like music or TV.
Build in entertainment
Well-secured fish tanks or computer screens depicting birds are good distractions for cats, says Werber. Keep dogs amused with puzzles, a variety of bones, or a chew toy stuffed with treats.
Use calming scents
Dog-appeasing pheromones, the scent a mother dog gives off, are available in collars and other devices and are available from many pet stores.
Retraining your pet is a gradual process and you need to be patient with them. If you reach a point, though, where their anxiety is still severe, ask your vet about prescription medicines. They’re not always meant for long-term use, but combined with behaviour modification, these meds can help your pet learn to cope with being left alone.