Lola - Separation Anxiety
Separation Anxiety is Heartbreaking
I have a 3 year old cocker spaniel and when we go out she cries until we come back.
I am her fourth owner - what can we do to help her not cry when we are not home?
Reply from Pauline (Web-owner)
It sounds like Lola might be suffering from separation anxiety.
If you're her fourth owner, she may have a little 'baggage' and you may not be able to remove her anxiety altogether but there's quite a lot that you can do to make her happier in your absence, as follows:
Don't make a fuss when you leave or when you return, just act like it's normal and there's nothing wrong with your coming and going - you will always return home to her.
Try to vary your routine before you leave the house - dogs pick up on this and she will begin to get anxious the moment she spots the signs that you're about to leave the house.
For example, putting your shoes or coat on, looking for your car keys, etc.
You could even try leaving out of the back door, or leaving without her knowing (if that's ever possible with a Spaniel!).
It's also important to keep her occupied so that she doesn't have time to think about you, or she's so happy playing or sleeping that she doesn't give you a second thought.
I often leave my Cocker Spaniel with a stuffed bone or Kong. He will 'worry' this to death until every last piece of kibble has been removed and every last trace of peanut butter or whatever paste I use has been licked away!
(Any food given is taken from his daily allowance - I don't want a fat cocker spaniel!)
If I know I'm going to be out for a couple of hours I usually walk him first, or give him an indoor play/training session, to tire him out. After he's finished with his bone/Kong, he usually falls asleep. Result!
We're into a routine, and he's adjusted to this routine quite nicely. Walk, play, Kong, sleep.
I leave the radio on for him, usually on a chat show so that he hears voices as I think it makes him feel less alone. (I might be kidding myself, but it makes me feel better).
I recommend you read this article about separation anxiety and then follow it up to learn more about how you can help your dog to manage better when you're away from home for any length of time.
You may never erase her anxiety completely but you can go a long way to making it easier for her to deal with.
I wish you both lots of luck and happiness.