During quarantining and social distancing, Dorchester Paws has struggled with a dramatic decrease in adoptions, donations and on-campus volunteering in the months of March, April and early May. As we’re transitioning back into normalcy and Charleston begins opening up again, we wanted to make sure we took a second to talk about how you can fight separation anxiety in your pet and live in a happy home!

Some common ways that our pets exhibit separation anxiety include digging and scratching at doors or windows, destructive chewing, barking and whining, and having accidents in the house (even with otherwise house-trained dogs).

What causes separation anxiety? It isn’t understood why some dogs struggle with separation anxiety and others don’t. However, this behavior is a part of a panic response that can be triggered by various events like being left alone for the first time, suffering a traumatic event, and even change in the family routine.

How can you treat minor separation anxiety? Don’t make a big deal out of departures and arrivals, leave your dog with clothes that smell like you, establish a word or action that tells your dog you’ll be back, crate your dog for a limited amount of time to develop comfort in kennel and consider consulting with your veterinarian about calming products to reduce your animal’s anxiety.

How can you learn to cope while dealing with the situation? Ask your veterinarian about drug therapy to reduce their overall anxiety, consider taking your dog to a daycare facility or kennel, or leave your dog in the care of a trusted friend.

Things that won’t help are punishment, background noise, obedience training, and another dog.