In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to leave your dog home alone, but in the world of most pet parents, it’s inevitable your dog will be left home alone -- whether you’re working, shopping or hanging out with friends. If your dog is anxious, that will probably make you anxious about leaving her and that leads to more anxiety -- for both of you.
You may want to visit your veterinarian to determine if your dog is suffering separation anxiety. If he says your dog is, then you can come up with a plan that can help alleviate separation anxiety and make your time away from home and his time home alone less stressful.
Here are ways to help your dog feel calmer when left home alone
Dogs love routine, but if your routine involves specific tasks you perform only when leaving the house, he will pick up on that and begin to exhibit anxious behaviors. Shake up your routine, but follow one that is comforting to your pet. What do we mean? If you’re leaving, give him his favorite treat, put him in his crate if that is a comforting spot for him, make your leaving the house a “non-event.”
Take a walk. Before you leave your dog home alone take her for a walk or have a rousing game of fetch (or whatever your dog’s favorite game is). Tire her out and she just may sleep while you’re away because she will be pleasantly exhausted. If your dog is nervous or bored while you’re away, he just might gnaw on the windowsills or claw up the doors in your home or apartment. Use CLAWGUARD Door Shields and CLAWGUARD Tape to protect your home (you don’t want to have to replace doors or take a chance on losing your pet deposit!)
Keep your emotions in check. Most dogs are empathetic and pick up on your mood. If you are nervous about leaving, he will be nervous about being left. Focus on sending out positive thoughts and positive energy and your dog will pick up on that. He will know you’ll be back and will get accustomed to the fact that is part of his routine (see item #1)
Build up to it. If you worry about leaving your dog home alone for long periods of time while you are away at work, start by leaving him for short periods of time. If you have recently adopted a new puppy or dog, teaching her to be home alone for short amounts of time -- no longer than fifteen minutes, at first -- will help her learn that even though you are leaving, you will be back.
It is hard on a dog if you bring him home one day, then leave immediately for long work day and leave him home alone in a strange environment.
Make leaving AND coming home ordinary events. If you hug and kiss and encourage your dog to jump around and bark, then your leaving and coming back home will become times of frenetic activity and that could lead to anxiety in your dog.
Do your best to “ignore” him before you leave the house. If possible, leave the house without even saying good-bye. Just walk out the door. If you hug on him and say, “I’ll be back soon! Be a good boy!” Your excitement aka anxiety will shine through and he will pick up on that and become nervous.
If your arrival back home leads to your dog excitedly greeting you at the door and jumping up and scratching it while waiting for you to unlock it and greet him you will want to invest in CLAWGUARD Door Shields to protect the door. Work with your dog on not jumping on the door, but use CLAWGUARD until the lessons are learned.
You don’t want your dog excited when you leave, you want him calmly lying on the couch playing with his favorite toy.
Other quick tips:
- Leave on some “white noise” -- a fan or air conditioning
- Give him a toy he only gets when you leave
- Ignore him if he whines when he sees you getting ready to leave
- Turn on the radio
- Invest in DOGTV -- programming specifically designed to help with separation anxiety and dog loneliness -- and leave that on for him.
What have you tried that has worked to help with your dog’s separation anxiety?