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8 Products to Help Ease Separation Anxiety in Dogs

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8 Products to Help Ease Separation Anxiety in Dogs


Over the past year it seems every other person got a new dog. Some newspapers called adoptions a “craze,” while others reported on shortages of available pooches. Many people were quoted saying that they saw the pandemic as the perfect time to devote to getting what was widely reported as “pandemic puppies.” They argued that the weeks at home would allow them to focus on the various instructional needs of their four-legged companions, ranging from potty training to “sit” and “stay.”

However, now that many people are transitioning back to working in their offices, they’re dealing with new canine-related issues—namely, separation anxiety in dogs. Because people have spent so much time at home over the past year, that constant presence is what their pack expects. Being left alone for eight or more hours can be new and worrisome territory for them.

But, there are ways to help alleviate your doggo’s apprehensiveness. We recently chatted with veterinarian Mallory Bonstrom, D.V.M., about some of the various products that can help dog owners ease their fur buddy’s anxiety. Here’s what she suggested.

Snuffle mats

“Snuffle mats simulate a dog’s natural foraging and hunting behaviors, and provide mental stimulation and entertainment while their people are busy or away at work,” Dr. Bonstrom says. Awoof is one of the brands that makes this particular training toy. Pet parents can hide treats or small toys within the folds of fabric (most of which look like salad bowls or picnic spread) for their pups to find. Other brands with similar products include Paw5 and Stellaire Chern.

Awoof Pet Snuffle Mat for Dogs

Puzzle toys

There are oodles of puzzle toys out there, with varying levels of complexity, that are meant to occupy your dog. “These toys provide mental stimulation, help relieve boredom and anxiety, and can help reduce destructive behaviors,” Dr. Bonstrom says. We like The Game from Fable, a toy that holds up to 1.5 cups of dry food, so dogs can hunt for their meal over the course of a half hour and, in doing so, enjoy physical and mental stimulation. Other games include various Busy Buddy toys from Pet Safe and the multilevel Nina Ottoson puzzles for Outward Hound.

Kongs

Kongs are an incredibly durable classic treat toy. “By adding a thin layer of peanut butter or squeeze cheese to the inside of a Kong and then freezing it, you can keep your pet quietly entertained for quite a while,” Dr. Bonstrom says.

Lick mats

Many dogs will lick to self-soothe (which explains why you may sometimes see your pet lapping at the couch, their bed, or other objects). “In addition to being calming, lick mats can help reduce destructive behavior and can keep pets occupied and entertained,” according to Dr. Bonstrom. Lick mats can be used with peanut butter, cream cheese, canned dog food, whipped cream, or other soft pet-friendly treats. Bonus: Lick pads that are sticky or have suction cups can be put on the wall in the tub and are helpful in distracting dogs in need of a bath.

Aquapaw Slow Treater Treat-Dispensing Lick Mat

Snuggle toys

“Toys such as Heartbeat Buddies or Snuggle Puppy can ease anxiety by mimicking another pack member to cuddle with,” Dr. Bonstrom says, adding that they’re especially helpful for young puppies, as these toys include a removable heat pack and a pulsing “heartbeat.” They’re particularly useful in kennel training or for comforting dogs who are afraid of loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms.

Calming music

“Certain types of music have been shown to induce calmness in dogs and can help cover up noises that may be triggering to them,” Dr. Bonstrom explains. Products such as Through a Dog’s Ear and iCalmpet include music that has been bioacoustically designed to appeal to a dog’s sense of hearing. Otherwise, Dr. Bonstrom recommends reggae, classical music, soft rock, talk radio, or white noise.

iCalmDog 5.0b Bluetooth Speaker

Pheromones

“Products such as Adaptil mimic canine appeasing pheromone, which is a comforting scent message that mother dogs produce in order to make their puppies feel safe,” explains Dr. Bonstrom. She adds, “These scents are not detectable by people but can help dogs feel more at ease and protected.” Adaptil is available as a collar, diffuser, or a spray that can be used on bedding, thundershirts, bandanas, or crates.

Adaptil Dog Calming Diffuser Kit

Interactive Toys

There are many toys available that either allow you to remotely interact with your pet or will interact with your pet without manual control. Dr. Bonstrom recommended the Furbo Dog Camera, a system that, through an app, pet parents can see, talk to, and toss treats to their dog. It’s meant to keep your pet occupied even when you are at work, though we’d imagine it would keep you occupied, as well.



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