Separation anxiety is a common issue with many dogs. Although your pup will survive it, it can be stressful for both them and you as the owner. Using a dog daycare for the long days you are away at work can help, but you will need to take steps to make sure that the anxiety doesn't follow them to the daycare facility.
1. Provide Reminders of Home
Dogs depend on their sense of smell for lots of things, including feeling comfort. Choose a facility that allows you to bring in reminders of home to help comfort your pup. Having their pet bed or favorite toy with them can provide comfort. Some dogs do better if their owner's scent is nearby. If allowed, lining a portable dog bed or your pup's travel crate with a t-shirt or similar item that you have recently worn may help with anxiety.
2. Look Into Smaller Facilities
Larger daycares can be overwhelming for an anxious pup. Look for smaller facilities or facilities that are able to keep dogs separated into small, non-interacting groups. In-home daycares, where someone cares for your pup in their own home, may be less anxiety-inducing for especially nervous dogs. Larger, loud daycare facilities can be too much and only lead to increased anxiety.
3. Choose the Right Exercise Options
Some dogs feel most calm when kept inside a pen or crate except for when they are on a walk or interactive play session. Other dogs feel less anxious when they are free to play and interact with other dogs. Make sure the facility you choose provides the optimum exercise option for your pup's personality, whether it is scheduled walks or an open exercise yard.
4. Supply Some Puzzle Toys
Dogs that bite, chew on themselves, or whimper when anxious may have some relief from keeping their mind's busy. Puzzle toys, where your dog has to work to get a treat from the toy, can be an excellent method to keep their mind busy so anxiety doesn't set in. Durable chew toys can also help relieve anxiety, or at least give them a healthy outlet for their need to chew while anxious.
5. Always Start Small
If you have an anxious dog, start by slowly introducing them to the doggy daycare. Visit the daycare a few times with your pup so they can get used to the facility and the staff with your reassuring presence by their side. Then, begin by leaving them for a short period at first. For example, make the first stay no more than one hour, then slowly increase the time to the desired length. This will help your dog feel comfortable that you will return for them.
Contact a dog daycare for more ideas on helping your pup deal with their separation anxiety.