Anxiety: What can you do to help

Anxiety is no fun for the owner or the dog. There are ways to help ease separation anxiety.

1. Consider a calming aid. Composure, by Vetriscience, is a veterinary formula calming treat that is safe to give to dogs and cats to ease anxiety. This is great for trips in the car, going to the vet, while boarding, or for use day-to-day for generalized anxiety. Another great product is a DAP or Adaptil collar or diffuser. These work for 30 days at a time. DAP stands for Dog Appeasing Pheramone. The diffusers can be used in the room of the house that the dog spends most of it's time in. A Thundershirt uses compression to release endorphins to help calm a dog during times of stress. It typically needs a little adjustment time for the dog. It needs to be worn consistently to be effective.

2. Give your dog at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise each day. A physically stimulated dog will be more likely to rest easier when you are gone.

3. Leave your dog with mentally enriching toys. Examples are a Kong, Starmark Everlasting Treat Ball, Twist-n-Treat, Busy Buddy Bouncing Bones and more. These toys are filled with delicious treats/food to occupy your dog while you are gone. Look to future blogs for yummy recipes!

4. Shut your dog in a room with minimal objects that can be destroyed. Closed crates can cause panic attacks in anxious dogs that can lead to injury to the dog and destruction of the crate.

5. Ignore your dog for 20 minutes before you leave and 20 minutes after you get home. You will find that hello's and good byes cause the anxiety to be worse.

6. Leave the radio or TV on a low volume to keep your pet company and provide a distraction. Keep the music calm and upbeat, nothing to heavy.

7. Start desensitizing your dog to you leaving. During the day leave and return to your house or apartment so frequently, that it wears  your dog out. Vary the times from short durations to longer durations. Leave every few minutes. Never enter your house if your dog is barking. Wait for your dog to be quiet for at least 20 seconds. Pick up and move your keys, purse (women), back packs, put on your shoes, and do other activities that usually precede you leaving your house, and then dont leave your house. You want to desensitize your dog to the behavior of you leaving and the behaviors leading up to you leaving.

8. If your dog is always stuck to your side, use a baby gate to shut your dog into another section of the house where they can still see you for. Go about your day as usual. This should only be done for part of the day, but done daily to help your dog be able to calm itself while separate from you.

9. Once you have exhausted other methods, you might consider anti-depressants, prescribed by your veterinarian. Anti-depressants do not alter your dog's personality and can be a blessing for some dogs.

If you would like to discuss different products and methods of easing anxiety, please feel free to contact Shannon, with Cookeville K9 -n- Friends.