Millions of dogs in the United States suffer from separation anxiety. Symptoms include excessive barking, whining, chewing and vomiting, and some dogs have had anxiety so severe that they’ve chewed through walls. Medication is one solution, but redesigning areas of your home so that your canine friend feels safe and secure may be a better long-term alternative.
Anxiety comes from several different sources. Sight, smells, and sounds can all throw your dog into a spiral of fear. You may want to upgrade your windows to control the stimulus your dog is exposed to. Bay windows give your pet a large range of view, so he won’t feel claustrophobic in the home. They also give him a place to lay and wait for you to get home. Double-pane glass will help drown out fearsome noises like thunderstorms and fireworks and leaving an inconspicuous window open just a crack will also let scent dogs enjoy the smells of nature.
Places to Hide
Sometimes, it is helpful to crate train anxious dogs, which helps the dog feel safe and protected. Crates can be large and ugly, however, so consider building a den-like area for your dog that is incorporated into the design of the house. Right off of the front door, for example, you can build a mudroom dog house that can be closed up when you leave. Even if it does not completely cure the anxiety, the dog’s designated space will stop him from tearing up other areas in your home.
Room to Play
Part of the training for stress reduction in your dog is to teach him to entertain himself. Create a doggie play area with all of his toys and plush pets. Use the toy area as part of your desensitization training.
Your pet watches you get ready to leave every day. This is where the cycle of anxiety begins—break the routine by putting on your jacket then playing in the playroom. Leave the house for only a few minutes, then return and play with your pooch. Do this over and over again until your canine friend is able to make his own fun.
Bean Bag Décor
Accessories like weighted jackets have been found to soothe fearful dogs. In some cases, overstuffed furniture will serve the same purpose. The squishiness of the bag encloses the dog like a hug, doing the same thing as a weight jacket. Shags Wags, for example, makes specially designed bags for dogs, created to be extra strong so that your pet can chew and move the bean bag as he needs.
A Technology Upgrade
The love of pets has given us some novel technological innovations. Recently, a teenager launched a Kickstarter campaign for her invention to reduce separation anxiety. The device, called iCPooch, lets pet owners Skype with their dogs while they’re away, using a screen attached to a stand. The stand is coupled with a food bowl, so the pet parent’s presence is reinforced by food. As a training device, this idea seems promising. It is a great way to use your Wi-Fi system to calm your anxious pet.