Could your pet be suffering from separation anxiety?

Just like people, pets suffer from anxiety. Especially, separation anxiety when their owners go to work or on vacation.  As a pet sitter, I have seen many of my clients exhibit at least some of these behaviors. Below are 5 of the most common signs of separation anxiety in animal:


1) Going to the bathroom in the house


2) Excessive barking, crying, or howling


3) Destructive behavior such as chewing or digging


4) Trying to escape


5) Pacing, panting, and/or excessive licking


Anxiety left untreated can lead to ongoing and progressive psychological and physical stressors that you and your pet don’t need! If your animal is displaying these behaviors there are several things you can do to ease your animal’s anxiety.


  1. Before you leave for work or vacation, consider giving your pet lots of exercise. Giving your dog a long walk or playing with your cat can help release some anxious energy your pet (and you!) may have.   
  2. You can also try counterconditioning. Counterconditioning is a technique that provides a positive reinforcement to distract your pet from the negative action they are engaging in. One of the best ways to do this, in my experience, is using a “puzzle” toy with treats inside. Your dog or cat will be motivated physically and mentally to obtain their treat, thus alleviating some of the anxiety they feel when you leave.
  3. Leave an item of  clothing that smells like you in your pets bed. Pets are hyper-sensitive to smell and nothing is better to them than your scent. A previously worn shirt or pair of socks could be just what they need to settle down.


If your pet is still exhibiting signs of separation anxiety after trying these techniques, you may want to consider consulting with a dog trainer or animal behaviorist. Some causes of separation anxiety in animals do require more intensive training and counterconditioning. Also, consider getting a dog walker who is also a pet sitter. Having one person to walk and watch your pet while you’re away will help maintain your pet’s routine and can give them comfort while you are away.


Remember, anxiety is a natural emotion for pets and people, but redirecting that energy into positive outcomes and engagement will add to the quality of your pet’s life and your peace of mind! Our pets can feel our emotions, so ease your own stress by making life as stress-free for your pet as possible. I’d love to hear some other tips and tricks you’ve used to help your fur family. Comment below! 


Edited by Tara Rico