KONG Solutions: Separation Anxiety

Miniature Dachshund Looking out a Window

By Sarah Taillon

On June 20, America will celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day, making for some very happy dogs.

But what about all the other days of the year, when we can’t bring our pooches with us for the day? Separation anxiety is a common problem for dogs, and can cause pet parents considerable stress as well. Behavioral problems associated with separation anxiety include excessive barking and whining, property destruction, depression, hyperactivity and more. While separation anxiety is a complicated issue, the solution can be simple.

Trainers suggest working to create a positive association with departure to decrease stress and anxiety around separation. Stuffing a KONG toy with high-value treats makes it nearly irresistible to dogs, creating an ideal tool for combating anxiety. Start by stuffing the KONG with a mix of KONG Easy Treat, kibble and broth and give it to your dog at quiet time. You can read a book or focus your attention elsewhere, leaving them to enjoy the KONG on their own. Continue to practice this, leaving for a few minutes after your dog is engaged with the KONG. Gradually increase the length of time you’re gone.

As your dog improves at removing the treat mixture from the KONG, you can heighten the challenge by freezing it. Freezing a stuffed KONG also extends treat time, which is important because separation anxiety typicallypeaks within the first 20 minutes of departure. Give a stuffed, frozen KONG to your dog about five minutes before you leave. This is an effective way of redirecting your dog’s attention from your exit and will absorb them during this crucial time. Upon return, wait until your dog is calm and quiet to greet them and remove the KONG.

A stuffed, frozen KONG is a delicious treat any time, but it can also go a long way to ease separation anxiety for those times you can’t be with your best friend.

Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day? Share your pictures with us, using #KONGdog, for a chance to win a KONG gift pack.