How to holiday without your dog even if they have separation anxiety
Holidays can be a major complication for us millions of dog owners in Australia. The difficulty in what to do with your fur baby when you go away is compounded when your poor pooch suffers from separation anxiety. There are numerous reasons why a dog will struggle when left by his owner. However due to the depth of information on the subject the reasons as to why will not be covered within this story.
Instead we discuss how to make leaving your pet easier for you and them, if you find you just can’t take them with you when you go away.
Signs that your dog does not cope when left
It’s important to understand the signs of behaviour your dog displays when left alone. By understanding his particular type of behaviour allows you to communicate the signs and symptoms to your pet carer of choice. Some of the signs mentioned by the Blue Cross are as follows;
- Your dog becomes distressed as he senses you are leaving, or as soon as you leave the house
- Scratching at doors, chewing on doorframes and jumping at fences or windowsills to look for a way out
- Barking, howling or whining
- Chewing, digging and/or destructiveness
- Defecating and/or urinating inappropriately
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Hyper salivation
- Under of over-eating
Whatever signs and to what degree they show these symptoms are important elements that need to be communicated to your pet care provider. If your dog shows signs of any extreme or excessive behaviour noted above, it is important that your first consult with your vet a few months in advance of your planned trip so that you can minimise the anxiety leading up to the event. According to 2nd Chance, there are many ways in which we can prepare our dog and take practical steps to minimise separation anxiety. Teaching your dog as many commands as possible, obedience training, desensitisation of the triggers for when you leave the house, and leaving them in short bursts, gradually increasing their time alone are just some of the methods suggested. In extreme cases when other non-medicinal methods have been exhausted, you may find that drug therapy may be your only solution. As this solution comes from your vets expert guidance, you should try not to feel guilty about using them, knowing that your vet always has your pet’s best interests at heart.
The right pet boarding solution for you
Now that you have a better understanding of your dog’s behaviour when you leave him, it’s now time to find the best boarding solution that will give you the peace of mind you need whilst you are away. If you have not prepared him for his stay then in any situation your dog could become extremely destructive, fearful of other people and/or show signs of fear related aggression.
If Fido exhibits signs of destruction, digging and the need to ‘escape’, then a pet sitting option where he is left at home for extended periods would logically not be your best option. You may also find that happy is not always an option either, yet safe, secure and well-cared for is. After all some dogs will even show signs of separation anxiety when their owners take a walk to their the mail box.
Therefore as long as you like, know, trust (and your dog does too) your chosen care provider, expecting your dog to be overly happy that you have left him will be a huge ask for any professional.
Before making your final decision about whom to leave Fido with, we recommend you have a read of our “10 important questions to ask before boarding your pet” or “How to find a great pet sitter” so that you can be prepared to ask questions on your first introduction or tour of the facilities.
When you feel that you are happy with your final decision ask you pet professional about a trial period and how they manage dogs with separation anxiety that display the type of symptoms your dog shows.
Andrew Bell, pet professional and owner of Paws Away Boarding Kennels in Canning Vale, Western Australia, thoroughly recommends a trial period for dogs with separation anxiety. He suggests that the owner bring a blanket, or an old jumper that holds the owners scent as well as the ‘smell of home’. Paws Away Boarding Kennels will also work with your dog in the exercise yards so that he associates the kennels with having a ‘fun time’.
He goes on to say:
“[…] in extreme circumstances they may need some medicated assistance from a vet prior to boarding, but this should be a last resort. My motto is boarding for a pet should be an enjoyable experience that they want to come back to.”
As a pet professional he understands that you need to give your dog time to adjust to its new surroundings and that pet professionals should never stop trying to gain the dogs trust and adds “Treats and cuddles go a long way with some dogs.”
Michael Garcia, owner and manager of K9 Workouts in Moorabbin, Victoria has observed over his many years of experience working with dogs “that with dogs that show separation anxiety at home that the "condition" dissipates when they come to us for boarding as during the day, boarding and day care dogs are in play groups and not isolated as they are in "other boarding Kennels". Our prerequisite for boarding requires a dog to have spent at least two days of day care before boarding, to acclimatise to our staff our surroundings and our programs.”
There is no doubt that there seems to be quite a few factors to think about when choosing your best option. Taking into consideration your dog’s nature, whether they are sociable with other dogs and the ‘gut’ feeling you get when you visit your prospective pet carer are all important factors.
Take time to consider what will make your pup feel most secure whilst you are away. You know your dog well, but how nice would it be to build a relationship with a pet professional where they get to know your dog well too? It would make your future holidays away and leaving them so much easier.
It’s also very important to remember to skip the long goodbyes. Your dog is very in touch with your emotions so long drawn out goodbyes will lengthen the time that he settles in for his holiday away from you.
So now all the hard work is done, it’s time for you to sit back and relax and enjoy your holiday, you deserve it, and your pooch deserves his holiday too! Bon voyage for now, and 'see' you soon .. :)
We really hope you have found the information on this article helpful. We always love to hear from anyone who is finding it difficult to find the perfect solution for their pet, so drop us an email or contact us via our Facebook page to share your thoughts with other like minded pet owners.
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