Have you ever had a new Guest pet who seemed quite unsettled, or even acted out in ways that you or their parents found surprising or even upsetting?
Even the slightest change in routine can be upsetting for some Guest pets, and it’s common for them to experience “separation anxiety” within the first 24-48 hours in a new environment.
In response to experiencing separation anxiety, some dogs may start acting disruptive or destructive, especially when left alone. Other signs include:
- Urinating, marking and defecating indoors
- Pacing or trying to escape from the house or yard
When these issues are accompanied by signs of panic, distress or depression, they may indicate a dog is suffering from separation anxiety. But, don’t fear! There are some very simple things you can do to alleviate this temporary anxiety.
Remember to keep calm. While dealing with a pup with separation anxiety can be stressful or make you nervous, the pup will feed into your energy so it’s imperative that you keep cool.
Remember that separation anxiety tends to subside after 24-48 hours, so following these simple tips will help you to make it through and have a successful reservation.
Ask the Pup Parent for Tips
Give the pup parent a call to see if they have any tips to help ease the pup’s anxiety. They may have experience with this, and they know the pup best! Be sure to be specific about the behaviors their pup is exhibiting, and let them know that you want to know if they have tips to ensure the best experience for their pup.
Please do not ask that they pick the pup up before consulting with DogVacay staff.
Wear the Pup Out
An exhausted pup won’t be able to expend energy being anxious, so if your Guest is showing signs of separation anxiety you should immediately take them out on a long walk, if they’re physically capable of doing so.
Maintaining a solid exercise regimen is a critical part for the care routine of a pup with separation anxiety, and will make your life much easier as a Host if you commit to it.
Food Association and Puzzle Toys
Another great way to ease the anxiety of being separated from their people is to associate them leaving with something positive, like a yummy KONG stuffed with frozen peanut butter. Not only will the pup enjoy the treat, but having to work to get the food out will help them burn mental energy.
Other great food oriented puzzle toys that are both yummy and help burn mental energy are:
Never leave food reactive pups together with food or treats out though, and never leave a pup with toys or bones small enough to be swallowed!
Resist the Urge to Reassure
While it’s tempting to reassure the pup that everything will be okay through praise and petting, doing so can actually reinforce that the pup should feel nervous or worried. Speak calmly to the dog, but do not reassure their anxiety.
Instead, remain calm, but also maintain confidence and authority.
Calm Exits and Entrances
Separation anxiety is typically set off by a pet thinking they are going to lose their people indefinitely. It’s imperative that you make all greetings, both the hellos and goodbyes, very calm.
Also, pay extra attention to doors, gates and windows being secure from pups who may try to escape at all times! If you are watching pups for the holidays, or any other time you're expecting human Guests, make sure they know this about your canine Guests ahead of time!
If you’re Hosting a dog with separation anxiety, ease the pup into it by leaving for small increments of time. This will help desensitize them to being alone in your home. Start with 5-10 minutes and work your way up. Remember to keep your exits and entrances very calm!
Dog Proof Your House and Create a Safe Space for the Pup
If you need to leave the pup, create a space that they will be safe in. Remove all valuable items from the space. You should also remove any furniture, when possible, and anything with cords that can be chewed on. If a pup is experiencing severe destructive anxiety, you can use removable duct tape to protect wall edges and baseboards. You can also try products like the ClawGuard to protect doors.
Want More Tips?
For additional tips on property damage prevention, nervous pups, and helpful products check out our post on Your Biggest Hosting Challenges, Solved!