6 Products to Help Ease Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety When You Return to Work
“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. 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.