Do you have a hard time leaving and or re-entering your home because of your dog’s separation anxiety? Does your dog become destructive, overly anxious or bark excessively while you are gone? This is a common problem that Dog School addresses, we recommend a few techniques that can help break this cycle.
Sometimes we can create or make separation anxiety worse just by our simple behaviors that are human nature for us but that only mislead our pets.
Comings and Goings:
When you are getting ready to leave your home and in the actual act of leaving your home, simply ignore your dog completely. The same goes for when you re-enter your home, ignore your dog until you have come inside and are settled and then you can say hello to your dog when they have calmed down. When you give dogs a lot of attention verbally, physical affection or sometimes just a small acknowledgement (for sensitive dogs) right before you walk out the door, they are being showered with stimulation and then it is immediately shut off and that is when they will look for outlets to keep this stimulation going by destruction or other similar behaviors.
Another thing that can help if your dog is crate trained is keeping a crate out of sight from your door and windows so that when you leave you are not creating any visual stimulation and while you are gone your dog is not pacing at the window or looking for passersby to take out their stress and anxiety on with excessive barking. Just remember when you put your dog in the crate, it is simply giving the command for going into the crate and no other attention in regards to you leaving and when you return you can even wait until your dog has settled back down and then let them out of the crate and wait again for them to settle outside of the crate before greeting them with attention.
A great tool for distracting your dog from their separation anxiety while either loose in the house or in their crate is giving them an interactive toy with treats or their daily meals before you leave. You can just place it either in their crate or somewhere away from the door for them to enjoy while you are gone. This is a great outlet for their nervous energy or separation anxiety.
This pertains to home and also while you are out in public with your dog, for example at the vet’s office. If you see that something is making your dog nervous, never accidently praise your dog for this behavior by comforting them with petting and verbal praise. Again this is human nature for us but not something that gives a dog comfort, dogs need a leader and in a moment when they are feeling nervous they need you to step up and be their leader and not reinforcing their fear by telling them “it’s okay”. Try just ignoring the situation, staying calm, and or redirect by doing some training exercises.
Remember a well exercised dog is usually too tired and happy to worry about you when you leave the house, so make sure to keep your regular walks, runs or hikes going daily to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated!
Always remember we want training to be fun for you and your dog! Check back next Tuesday for more training tips from Dog School Austin!