You know how when you travel or move, you just have a nervous edge? You’re pretty sure everything will turn out fine, but the change in routine is unsettling anyway. Dogs can experience this type of stress as well, especially when traveling, moving to a new home, or being cared for on a Vacay. Dogs might even view a new routine or location as a complete disaster and act accordingly.
Think about it from a four-legged perspective: they’re seeing and smelling all new people and things. We know everything will go back to normal, but our Guest dogs are unconvinced, and unable to ease into the new environment. This is extremely common within the first 24-48 hours of a Guest dog beginning their Vacay and can be relieved with a little TLC!
Here are some signs that your Guest pup may be experiencing separation anxiety:
- restless and pacing
- crying or howling
- excessive barking or growling
- little to no appetite
- sweaty paws
- urinating in the house and having accidents
- has soft stool or diarrhea
- upset stomach
If your Guest pup is exhibiting any of these symptoms, you can help them to alleviate stress and enjoy their Vacay with these simple tips:
1. Releasing Energy: Exercise helps to cure all sorts of ailments, for pets and people, and it will help show your Guest dog that fun and happiness are to be had in your home, too! To help your Guest pup adjust to your home, stroll around your backyard, grab a tennis ball for fetch or play a game of tug-of-war at the beginning of the Vacay.
2. Food Association: Associating some fun and yummy treats with being alone can help any pup. Try filling a KONG treat with peanut butter or leaving them with a rawhide with peanut butter on it. Be sure to ask the Pup’s parents what their favorite comfort treats are!
3. Tips from the Guest: “Mother knows best” applies frequently when Hosting a Vacay with an Anxious Pup! Before the Guest Pup arrives in your home, or during drop-off, be sure to ask the parents for tips on getting the dog(s) comfortable. Difficult situations turn into quick & easy fixes when you have the right knowledge and confidence to approach an upset Pup.
4. Practice makes PAWfect: Practice leaving the house for just a few minutes at a time. For example: 5 or 10 minutes at first and maybe a little longer the next time around. Calm hellos and goodbyes help to show the pup you will return and keep at them ease if you leave for an extended period of time.
5. Resist the urge to fuss over them: When a dog turns their big sad eyes on you, it can be instinctual to wrap them in a big hug and lavish them with love. However, if a dog is anxious or stressed, over-the-top displays of affection might actually signal to them that something is wrong. Mom is really making a big deal of this, they might think, persuading them that it IS a big deal. Instead, reward good behavior, like when your Guest dog is sitting calmly and taking everything in. Be sure to keep this in mind when leaving and coming home. Calm hellos and goodbyes are also very important to keep an anxious dog calm.
6. Give them a comfy spot all their own: Bonus points if you can put their blanket or favorite toys into a special space for the dog. A crate, bed or corner that a dog knows they can retreat to for a relaxing moment can give them relief from anxiety. Familiar smells from their own blanket from home, for example, will help them feel like not everything has been pulled out from under them.
If your Guest pup is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, we encourage that you contact the pup’s parents for advice! The parent may have dealt with this before and have some amazing tips that will help you approach this, in addition to ours.