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A Furry Frenzy: Helping Your Pet Overcome Separation Anxiety

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

So your favorite, furry child has a tendency of running wild while you're gone. When home, your cat or dog is overly affectionate; following you all over the house, staying under your feet, and certainly not letting you sit on the couch alone. The second you leave, however, your pet decides to "get back at you" for going by; forgetting that they're potty trained, destroying furniture, or even escaping. No matter how evident it may seem (like Fido only chewing on your shoes and leaving DH's alone), you pet is not trying to get back at you. Rather, they are merely trying to cope with the fact that you are gone.

Your pet, like many others, is likely suffering from separation anxiety disorder. They are worried that when you leave them you will never come back. In some cases this is due to previous owner experiences where a pet was put up for adoption. More times than not, though, you pet was just born with their anxiety and it is your job, as their parent, to help them through it.

Here are some techniques that you can use to train your pet, and help relieve them of their anxieties:

- Desensitize the pet to the signs of you leaving. Pick up your car keys fifty times--but then don't leave. Put on your coat or open the door a dozen times, then stay inside. Leave out your overnight case all the time, and toss in your animal's favorite treat to make it's presence a pleasant and fun experience. Put clothes in and out daily-but never leave with the suitcase. Repetition of these cues makes them lose meaning so the dog and cat won't get upset, and remains calmer when you actually do leave.

- Stage absences to increase the pet's tolerance level. Leave for one minute, two minutes, five, ten minutes, etc. Do this a dozen times in a row so that the repetition makes it less significant to your pet.

- Make sure the dog and cat gets lots of exercise before you leave, and after you return home. Spend a few extra minutes in the morning playing with your pet before you leave. Your tired pet will fall right to sleep rather than anxiously wait for your return.

- You can also offer puzzle toys filled with tasty treats, and hide them around the house for the dog or cat to find. When he's thinking and hunting for treats, he isn't getting himself upset because you're gone.

Long Island Pets Articles > A Furry Frenzy: Helping Your Pet Overcome Separation Anxiety

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