Ease Your Dog's Separation Anxiety With These Simple Tips

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Playing How to Help Nervous Dogs with Separation Anxiety

Expert vets Dr. Vernard Hodges and Dr. Terrence Ferguson, from Nat Geo WILD's "Critter Fixers: Country Vets," share how to ease your pup's separation anxiety.   

Our viewer Dana says her dog Santino seems to suffer from severe separation anxiety when he knows she's going to leave, but Dr. Hodges and Dr. Ferguson say there are some simple fixes to try.  

Designate a certain time to play.  

Dr. Ferguson says that it's possible some of this anxious behavior is attention-seeking. "Designate a certain time to play that is only for [Santino]. You're not cooking a little bit and playing with [Santino]...[this time is] only for them and on a daily basis," he explains.  

Try to find the anxiety trigger.  

"Oftentimes the trigger is picking up your keys. When you pick your keys up, the dog recognizes that as my owner's leaving...so you have to alter the behavior. [Instead], you should pick your keys up, walk around the house, don't acknowledge the dog, come back around and put your keys down," he says. And it's essential to do this in different ways each time—grab your keys and go out for five or 10 minutes.  

This helps to show them that even when my owner leaves, they come back.  

Don't rule out medication.  

"What the [anti-anxiety] medication does is put them in the frame of mind so they can alter their behavior," Dr. Ferguson adds.  

Try to tire them out.  

Dr. Hodges explains that sometimes the easiest thing to ease a dog's anxiety is just to tire them out. Fetch with a ball or frisbee—or whatever they like to do!  

You can catch more of Dr. Vernard Hodges and Dr. Terrence Ferguson on “Critter Fixers: Country Vets,” Saturdays at 9pm on Nat Geo WILD, and streaming on Disney Plus.

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