Anxiety is a stressful situation for everybody. Here are a few tips on how to bring your pet's confidence back.
Your dog has been properly trained. Your cat is a cool one that doesn't cause any trouble. But suddenly you begin to find ripped cushions, broken ornaments, and/or pee in unusual places when coming back from work. What has happened to your perfect pet?
She could be trying to tell you that something is wrong medically, or she is suffering from separation anxiety. So to figure out which one it is, first visit the vet and have your pet checked. If given a clean bill of health, there's a chance your pet suffers from separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety occurs when pets are left alone. Suddenly the trusted human is not there and in his nervous state, your pet does things that were never part of his behavior.
Your pet may have been weaned too early and never learned how to be independent. Separation anxiety is also common with abandoned pets; the animal is afraid of being left again.
Then there are other situations where the stress develops after years of living with you, like losing a family member (either with four or two legs) and trying to deal with the pain in his own way.
Change of routine also plays a part like a new home, new job requiring more hours away from home, new baby... anything that disturbs your pet's happy world will cause some level of anxiety.
Here are a few of the most common symptoms:
- Too happy to see you when you arrive: Of course they always get excited to see you; but if the excitement is shown by excessive barking (or meowing), jumping, even peeing a bit means that your pet was very stressed in your absence.
- Destroyed objects around the house: If he's no longer a puppy, chewing on your shoes and furniture shouldn't be part of his routine. He could be trying to open a door or a window in order to escape or follow you, which is very dangerous.
- Accidents outside the litter box: If your cat is healthy then this is a behavior issue. Your cat is trying to get your attention.
- Decides to go on a diet: If your dog is refusing to eat unless you are with him, it means he is so nervous that eating becomes a chore that his stomach can't handle.
How to help them:
- The most important thing to remember is that punishment doesn't help. Your pet won't associate his misbehaving with your anger. This will only make him more anxious and afraid of you.
- Keep your exits and welcomes calm, almost nonchalant. Don't make a big deal of seeing him. Do not engage in play or petting until your pet comes to you in a relaxed manner.
- Special toys and goodies. Cool ones that can be filled with yummy treats should be brought out only when you're leaving. This way your pet will look forward to a fun time even when he's alone.
- Keys to nowhere. They recognize our "going to work" routine and know what grabbing the keys mean. To calm the anxiety, start carrying your keys around the house, going nowhere. Maybe change your clothes and sit down and watch TV for a while. Your pet will start disassociating all of those actions with you leaving.
- Exercise! A steady workout routine before leaving will make him tired and ready for a long nap.
If none of these tips help with the situation, consult your vet. Your pet may need proper medication or the advice of a certified animal behaviorist.