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  • Writer's pictureStacey Bell

The Impact of Routine Changes on Dogs with Separation Anxiety


Separation anxiety is a common behavioral issue among dogs, characterized by distress and anxiety when they are left alone. While there are various factors that contribute to separation anxiety, routine changes can significantly affect dogs with separation anxiety. This impact can be evident in the initiation of separation anxiety in dogs with a propensity for it or a worsening of separation-related behaviors in dogs already struggling with separation anxiety.  


Let’s explore how altering routines can impact dogs with separation anxiety and provide some tips for managing these changes.



Predictability:

Dogs with separation anxiety often find comfort in predictable routines. Sudden changes in their daily schedule, such as a change in your work hours, travel, and the kids going back to school or even variations in feeding times, walking routines, or playtime, can trigger heightened anxiety. 


Maintaining a consistent routine can help alleviate their stress and promote a sense of security.


Environmental Changes:

Changes in the physical environment can also impact dogs with separation anxiety. Moving to a new home, rearranging furniture, or introducing new household members can trigger anxiety. 


Providing familiar items, such as their bed, toys, and blankets, can offer a sense of familiarity and comfort. In addition, spending time with your dog in the new environment can increase their comfort level.


Gradual Transitions:

When changes to the routine are necessary, it's important to introduce them gradually if at all possible. Abrupt alterations can overwhelm dogs with separation anxiety and exacerbate their distress. Slowly transition to the new routine over several days or weeks, allowing your dog to adapt at their own pace.


Home Alone Training:

If you have been doing home alone training with your dog, taking a break while they assimilate to the new routine is a good idea.  Once your dog seems more like themselves, you can restart training with some shorter durations than what you were doing previously. The goal is to keep your dog successful in training where they are not experiencing anxiety during sessions.



Communication and Affection:

Maintain clear communication and provide ample affection during periods of routine change. Spend quality time with your dog, engage in activities you enjoy doing together, and offer reassurance. This can provide the needed social support, strengthen the bond between you and your dog, and help alleviate their anxiety.


Seek Professional Guidance:

If routine changes are inevitable and you are unsure how to support your dog, consider seeking guidance from a Certified SA Pro. They can offer personalized strategies and interventions to help your dog adapt to the changes more smoothly while also providing guidance on increasing the duration your dog feels comfortable while home alone.



Routine changes can significantly impact dogs with separation anxiety, but with patience, understanding, and careful planning, you can help your dog navigate these transitions. By prioritizing their well-being and using techniques like gradual transitions and maintaining a consistent bond, you can minimize the negative effects of routine changes and create a more harmonious environment for your canine companion.

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