Pet parents tackle separation anxiety

With the new year in swing I want to discus a topic I’ve struggled with since first becoming a dog parent almost four years ago. Separation anxiety from my dog Jack is something I have been tackling over the years and I know I’m not the only pet parent with struggles with this.

With every year, I make significant progress in learning to spend time away from my dog but the anxiety still lingers. By blogging about this I hope together we can better understand and share new ways to help each other deal with it. A resolution I personally work on every year and I want to let others pet parents are not alone— I mean, what’s not to miss about your dog!

I’ve heard about dogs who suffer from extreme separation anxiety from their owners, but in this case I’m more than certain it’s the other way around, mostly because I worrying my dog is sad a home and the idea of that makes ME sad. The reality of my anxiety became more apparent one night when I made plans to spend the evening with friends- OUT. OF. TOWN. to see Puff Daddy. I was looking forward to it because beside Diddy being one of my favorite artists I needed a night away (every mom needs a break). But with all the excitement there was still a looming sense of worry . I began worrying about Jack.

Who could watch him while I was gone for the evening?  Who would entertain him? How many hours will he be alone and how will he handle the loneliness? My brother who at the time was my roommate, also had plans to be out of town that night. I eagerly began skimming through my phone for a dog sitter. While a dog sitter could really make a difference, there have been many times when dog sitters have sent me text messages saying Jack spends a lot of his time looking out the window wondering when you will come home.  IT. BREAKS. MY. HEART. to know he gets depressed when I’m gone.  This is not for every case he has a sitter, but most.  Which meant if I was my goal to get him a sitter who he was familiar with and enjoyed being around. Unfortunately for the following the night, none of Jacks favorite sitters were available. And the only realistic option was for my next door neighbor to come by and check on him.  Jack has always liked her so the plan would be she that she come by to take him for a walk and play with him for a hour at one point in the evening.  Even though I knew I was going to have someone to come keep him company at one point while I was away the idea of my absence from him still made me sad. Knowing that I wasn’t going to be spending the night with Jack and his favorite sitters were not available made me worry about how bored and likely sad he would be while I was gone. I don’t like being away from him for too many hours at a time, especially at night. So when it comes to spending the entire evening away from him plans have to be made to implement ways of distraction for Jack and to diffuse the anxiety for me. I have trouble sleeping when I’m away from him at night… he’s all I think about.  Many times I have trouble letting myself fully enjoy an evening out because all I can think about is him being at home missing me.

I’m envious of dog parents who can just leave Fido home without anxiety.  How do they do it? Or is it just a front!  Parents who have two dogs have it much easier because they can leave the house with a piece of mind knowing their dogs keep each other company. Parents like myself who only parent one dog are always looking for new ways to distract their dogs while away. I have tried everything! From long lasting raw hides and durable toys. I have also gone as far as ordering DOGTV, a network scientifically made for dogs to entertain them while mom and dad are away. But no matter how many raw hides, toys, or television entertainment I personally provide for my dog Jack, my anxiety will never fully subside. Do any of you struggle with this with your dogs?

jack5Jackbeach

The day of my night out I took Jack to the  dog park, the beach, went to the dog wash and did some chew toy shopping. I bought him all kinds of long lasting raw hides I was hoping would distract him while I was gone. I mentally began to prepare myself how incredibly hard it was going to be for me to be away from him but I also had to remind myself that I was going to have a great time and gosh darn I deserved it!

The night ends up being a huge was a success! I had the time of life. However through out the evening I found myself anxiously making two countdowns; the first one with my friends until Puff Daddy hit the stage, and the second one in my head as I subtly counted down the hours until I was reunited with Jack once again the next morning.

The next morning, before any of my other friends woke up,  I left the hotel we stayed at bright and early at 7 am on a Saturday.  I was not interested in sleeping in and enjoying a hotel buffet breakfast with my friends to round out the festivities- I wanted to get home to my dog. Safely, but quickly I drove myself home I could not wait to see Jack. I walked in to see he Jack barley touched his raw hyde which instantly made me wonder if he was too sad to chew on it. I don’t know what goes on in his head when I’m gone, but I’m constantly worried about him. The reason why I worry so much is because I know that I am Jack’s entire world. I have my friends, my entertainment, my life but for Jack — all he has is me. So I always make an effort to be extra considerate of that as a parent to him.

barking beast33

Many of my friends like to argue the case think I’m obsessed with my dog and have an unhealthy dependency on him. They might be right, who knows?  They don’t understand my anxiety. I tell them it’s not so much I miss the physical companionship but more that I worry that he’s at home sad and lonely without me. Anyone who know’s me knows that I tale Jack with me everywhere and I mean everywhere.  If for any reason I have an afternoon engagement that does not allow me to bring him along he goes to Kamp Kanine a  outdoor dog daycare in Encinitas which he loves!

Truthfully, I still don’t like being away from Jack especially for long hours in the evening.  However with every year I have noticed I have been making more progress on this issue. I have also invested in more dog sitters to come by and spent time with him so I can do my own thing now and then because it’s healthy to get “you” time.  I believe the goal as a pet parent is to enrich the life of your pet and by helping them grow and distinguish themselves as their own. They key to this I cannot express enough is harvesting a home and lifestyle situation that translate to a better mental and physical health of the canine and dog sitters can make a productive difference that way.  If you have separation anxiety from your dog I encourage you hire a sitter to take the dog a few times a week because it’s healthy for you and the dog to spend some time apart, but this way you won’t worry the dog is alone. What are ways you cope with treating your separation anxiety from your dog? How do you tackle the nervousness? Would love to hear your stories and suggestions!

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23 comments

  1. Omg! I’m exactly the same withy dog bobby! I worry about him being alone at home thinking I abandoned him. I’m thing of getting another dog so he and I won’t feel so upset when I leave for long periods.

    • I feel exactly the same … So I got another dog! Trouble is, I still feel the same about them both. I thought it would cure me knowing he has a little friend to play with all day and they could both keep each other company and happy, but no Im still as anxious as ever. When me and my bf go out, he can switch off and enjoy the day … But im counting down the minutes until I am back home with them. Every plan I make at the weekend revolves around taking the dogs with us. Its actually getting on top of me. I would love to go for a nite out and enjoy my self without the fear my dogs are lonely, sad, anxious, missing me etc. I would love to feel happy enough to be away from them, but nothing feels right until I have them with me 😦 I never in a million years imagined my self to be like this lol!xx

  2. Cool post, yes I just realised I have dog seperation anxiety, have always missed him when apart and it has to be pretty good to pull me away from him. Our bond is strong as I supported him thru 2 life threatening crises, right now he has just got seriously ill at 15 and a half and is in hospital for 5 days, he has about ten percent odds of pulling through the next ten days and that will buy him maybe 3 more mths. This is the third night without him and the house feels creepy – almost haunted and its deeply depressing not to spoon him at night, crying a lot. This anxiety comes down to the fact he is the only one of him and that everyone else super close to me died by about 5 years ago. I can see from the photo of your dog that he too is not average but has a refined angelic spirit. I just discovered it is best to raw feed for a long life, the longest lived recorded dogs have exclusively eaten raw eg chicken carcasses. It can add ten years, 12-15 is possibly not the natural span, but is due to eating processed food.

  3. thank you so much for taking the time to write about this .. I feel so alone with this problem .. I can not go any where for long periods of time from my dog.. I feel lonesome with out her.. I picture her home alone also just sleeping and waiting for me to come home.. I have lost a lot in my life and I feel that is part of the problem.. I Cannot go away on trips for long periods of time.. I want to but I cant I go into a panic attack .. I I worry not only about my dog but my children and grandchildren will be ok ..what if something happens and I am not there.. .. If I am gone from my dog for long periods of time I miss her so much that I must get home as soon as I can .. I now dont feel so alone ..their are people out there with the same problem ..my family and friends do not understand this problem I have no one to talk to about it .

  4. I have the same problem! I’ve had my puppy since the week before Christmas, and I have only spent one night away from her… and I barely slept a wink. She is a family dog and my brother willingly watches her when I am gone, but I find myself missing her like crazy. I know that she is occupied and not bored when I am gone, but the way she gets super hyper and cries a lot when I come home makes me think that she misses me way too much. I am trying to get myself to go out more, since Ive really only been out with friends a couple times and one night in about 4 months….
    I am so glad to know that there are more people out there who have the same anxiety as me!

  5. And I am the same too. We have 2 small dogs and even though they have company I feel terrible when leaving them. They have doggy daycare and I never leave them for more than 2 hours. So this is extreme.. you know I think that this says a lot about us. I have an abandonment issue ans I fear this is the route of the problem. It is, however, a huge problem as the anxiety is terrible and the dogs can feel it. I think that dealing with this myself is the only way. As there is not anything to feel bad about really.

  6. I really do have the same problem, at times I feel “maybe I dont need to go out of town, or maybe I should just stay home.”
    Although my pups are with a safe person and in good company I worry they miss me also and it makes me feel sad usually the entire drive up to where I am going. I wonder too what they are thinking and feel bad. I spend the entire day with them before or day of when I am going somewhere for the night or nights. I dont know what I need to do to help myself lol but I usually try to comfort myself with the positive factors my pups have :food, attention, safety warm beds.
    Its tough but I am not ashamed to admit my pups rule my world…they’re family.

  7. I have been looking for solutions with these problem and yet I could only see separation anxiety of dogs. Thank you for posting because I can feel that I am not not the only person experiencing this. I have been crying for three nights now because my husband decided to find him a new home because of the injury I had with my husky and our place is so small for his active personality… I agreed to his decision but I told him that we will only let him adapted if I could see the place where my dog will stay. I don’t know how can I cope if his new owner will get him from me.

  8. I am retired and with my airedale terrier constantly! I love her, she is my world! I had to fly somewhere for couple days so my groomer watched her for me! Leaving her was the hardest thing I did in the 7 years I have had her! I found myself crying in the car all the way to the airport! Was a tough trip! When my keys rattle she’s at the door! Now I know why it took me 25 years since my last dog!!

  9. Thank you for posting this!!!! I am so embarrassed about my separation anxiety from my dog, Rosie. I imagine her feeling abandoned and heartbroken, bored and waiting for me to come home. I believe that I’m projecting my abandonment issues and anxiety onto her but I have not yet been able to change my obsessive thinking. Just talking about it helps, though, so thank you! As I said, I am very embarrassed by this and it causes conflict with my poor husband, who has “normal” thinking about Rosie.

    • Hi, I completely understand about your husband having “normal” thoughts of your dog, Rosie. I cry if we take her to even get groomed because I know my dog is very attached to me. I try to only plan on going out for short periods. And even then, I can’t stop thinking of how much my dog misses me and if he feels I may not come back. My husband and parents think I’m overly emotional and take this too far- they think I have a serios problem- and I do. I really dislike bring away from him and feel the happiest when my dog and I are together. I have a 15 yr old daughter and I’m ok with being away from her. I think that’s because she understands my language and we communicate with words- where my dog doesn’t understand what I’m saying. If he knew English, then maybe I’d feel better lol. It sounds ridiculous to me too but I can’t help the sadness I feel when I leave my dog. It really pains me inside and it really changes my mood. Is there a better way to deal with this? I need help.

  10. Me too! So glad to hear others are the same! I have 3 dogs, but find myself w/ separation anxiety from my pit bull, Asgard. He is my shadow. I have cameras to check in on the pack throughout the day while I’m at work & even though my husband works from home & the other 2 go outside, Asgard stays inside & just curls up on his bed. It makes me so sad to see him all alone. When I’m not going to work he rides everywhere w/me. My best friend lives 4 hours away from us & she wants me to come visit, however she lives in an apartment & has 2 dogs & 4 year old twins, so I know that Asgard wouldn’t be able to go. (Before she moved further away she had a house & we would road trip to visit her & stay w/ her & her family). I just hate the thought of missing any time w/ Asgard. Their lives are short enough, I don’t want to part w/ him any more than necessary.

  11. Oh wow yes!! You are not alone. I am so close to my pup. He is the very cuddly kind and we have a strong bond. I feel sad when I have to drop him off at the groomer’s all day because I know he is anxious and probably misses me so much. That is what makes me sad. If he is home though alone, he is okay. I’m not worried then. But leaving him somewhere all day is just rough.

  12. Yes! I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone. I’m getting ready to start going back to school, so I’m taking a break from work, but I can’t bring myself to leave my new puppy. I don’t go out with friends, they have to come to me. It’s giving me crazy anxiety about going back to work or school, to the point where I can’t sleep at night. I take him to my mothers house, before I can even go to the grocery store. My boyfriend feels normal about leaving him as well, like “Lis” said above. Everyone thinks I’m crazy!!!

  13. Oh my gosh! I have the same problem. I had to spend the night away from my dog for one night and I spent the whole night crying, thinking about how sad and scared my dog must have been without me. It used to be so bad I would be internally panicking at work because my mind kept replaying worst case scenarios on what could happen to my dog, who is 8 months old now, without me there to protect him. I’ve already had so many scares with him. I mean, I was the one who rescued him. I had to take him and the rest of his litter in at 5 weeks old because the guy who had them was going to drown them, and when I got them they where so flea infested they could have died just from having that many fleas on them, but thankfully I was able to completely get rid of the fleas. After We had found homes for them all, most of his brothers and sisters died from parvo. Then one day my dog Fiasco started throwing up and was refusing to eat, and I started freaking out even though he had his parvo shot and was completely up to date with all his shots. It turned out he had just ate something that had upset his stomach and it only lasted about 2 hours. But I was balling my eyes out the entire time, cause I just kept thinking what if the parvo shot didn’t work.
    Because he has already been through so much, I panic anytime I hear about anything that will keep me away from him longer than just a few hours. I feel like I’m the only one who can actually comfort him. And I’m afraid that if I stay away from him longer than a few hours it will emotionally damage him.

  14. I too am so attached to my dog Abby girl, that I get seperation anxiety if I have to be away from her. She becomes very anxious when I have to be away from her for 1 to 2 hours. I worry something will happen to her. She is almost 10 years old. We lost our beloved companion fur baby a month ago and the anxiety has become worse. I am heartbroken over losing our beloved Murphy. I raised them together for 9 1/2 years. Murphy got very sick suddenly and there was nothing that could be done for him. I truly felt that I was going to die because he was gone,but I am even more attached to Abby. She is literally my emotional support companion. If anything happens to her I truly believe I will die. My husband doesn’t understand this kind of bond and most likely thinks I’m nuts. We don’t do things like we used too…go to shows, etc.,because I can’t leave her by herself that long. If we go out of town to family she always goes with us (Murphy did too). He wants to take a short trip by ourselves and Abby be boarded. I will freak out if that happens. I truly don’t know what to do. I have been like this since I became disabled 5 years ago. What am I supposed to do. I don’t think I can live without her. I will truly die of a broken heart. I am going to get another fur baby soon so Abby girl will have some companionship other than me. I know I will become just as dependent on my new fur baby as I am of Abby girl. I probably need help mentally, but I don’t know if I can change because I am so dependent on my beloved Abby.

  15. OMG I am the same way, but it’s been getting baddd 😦 My husband and I have a 4 yo dog and now just got a puppy. I always feel so guilty when I go out to the point I just wanna go back home to them. I am currently a stay at home wife so all I do is take care of them all day. I think they are fine without me but I just freak out being away from them, I start wondering if they feel lonely or bored, if the puppy is suffering from holding her bladder. It’s so bad to the point I never want to go anywhere with my husband and it has really been affecting our relationship, because I resent him for going out to have fun while I am “stuck at home” having to attend all of the puppies’ needs. I’m going insane 😦

  16. i have the same problems. I miss my baby so much even when I’m just at work. I have a cruise coming up.. my whole family is going so I’m really worried about my boy. I feel bad because everyone else is excited but when i think about the stupid cruise it makes me cry. I dont want my baby at home all alone. He probably sits there wondering why his mommy isn’t coming home to sleep with him.. and for 4 days. i just dont know if i can make it.

  17. So who can give us a positive response……I have had one of my pups for 13yrs and the other 9yrs and hate to be gone more than 4 hours…….all my social and travel life is kaput !

  18. I’m so glad I’m not only one who has this problem. I have small maltipoo which makes it easier to sneak him into places. But for places that doesn’t allow dogs I purchased a doggy stroller to hide him in. I just put a blanket cover over the front screen to pretend there’s a baby inside lol. I also bought a baby monitor cam to watch what he does at home when I’m not around. It’s connected to my cell so I can see what he’s doing and it also has a function that allows me to speak into mic so he can hear my voice at home. I know this sounds psychotic but this is the internet and i dont care! 🙂

  19. This seems to be an old post , but I’m so glad I came across this. Every time I’ve typed in anxiety over my dog. I could only find posts about dog anxiety. I experience severe panic attacks and anxiety in day to day life. I check light switches , my car windows , gas stove and all the locks in the house 3 times every time I leave home. My husbands dog lived with my in laws before we got married. 3 months after our wedding , my husband bought the dog to our house. Every since we have our dog rocky with us, I am in constant panic 24/7 when I’m at work that the dog is lonely, bored and I think the dog thinks we abandoned him. Both my husband and I work 9-5pm jobs and I’m in constant fear and stress that the dog is just waiting for us to Come home. And when I do get home , the first thing I do is say hello to do dog and hug and kiss him 100 times. He’s an out door only as he’s a very big German short haired pointer. So it doesn’t help he can’t be inside due to his size. So I have to the back door open just so he can look inside while we eat dinner or watch tv. People think I’m crazy but I’m really struggling with this type of anxiety. Any suggestions to help me cope ?

  20. Adopting a dog should be a commitment for the dog’s lifetime. I have seen people adopt dogs and neglect them because they interfere with their social and work life, and it’s not fair to the pet. I give you credit that you are conscious that a dog should not be left for hours on end. My advice would be to consider all of the ramifications before adopting any pet. Good post

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