Unless you have a dog-friendly workplace, you're probably forced to leave your best friend home alone while you work. If you come home to a howling pup, wet spots on the carpet or chew holes in the couch, your Labrador may have separation anxiety.
Causes and Cures
A number of changes in your dog's life can result in an excessive amount of anxiety when you leave him home alone for the day. Some of these changes may be the loss of an owner or family member, relocating to a new house, being abandoned or even something as simple as a change in his routine. There's not currently any evidence proving why dogs get social anxiety, which also means there are no definitive cures. The best thing you can do is make the time you are away from your friend less stressful for him.
Wear Him Out
Before you leave for work in the morning, exercise your dog outside with a play session or a walk. When you come back in from the exercise, feed him and give him plenty of water. Wearing him out with exercise in the morning will allow him to sleep, or at least relax, for much of the time you're away. While he still may be overly excited to see you when you return home, he was able to relax much longer than he would have without the exercise.
Associate Being Alone with Things He Likes
Before you leave the house, prepare a treat for your dog that he really enjoys and will occupy him for a chunk of the time you're gone. Leave him a big bone that he can chew or a toy that you can stuff with treats, peanut butter or other snacks he loves. These toys are perfect for anxiety because they can occupy your dog and take his mind off of being away from you. This method also eases his fear of you leaving the house, because he'll associate it with his favorite toy or treat.
It's No Big Deal
Try to help your dog understand that you leaving the house is no big deal. As hard as it may be for you, try not to give him a huge goodbye when you leave for the day, and don't act extremely excited when you come back home. You can also work on your his anxiety while you have extra time at home. Leave for five minutes, then come back. Then leave for a little longer and come back inside. Eventually you'll be able to leave for long amounts of time without him being overly stressed that you're away.
Courtney McCaffrey graduated from the College of Charleston in 2008 with a B.A. in media studies. She has served as an editor for Blooming Twig Books and the MADA Writing Services publishing company. She is now a writer on various outdoor sports such as snowboarding, skiing, surfing and bodysurfing.