The whimpers and barks you hear as you lock the door, the sad puppy dog eyes looking at you through the window – leaving your dog at home can be difficult for not just your pet but you too.
However, separation anxiety, also called SA, is a very common issue many puppies and pet owners deal with on a regular basis. Whether your dog chooses to bark continuously, chew up furniture or use the restroom on the floor, there are ways to train them to not fear being alone in your home. Here are just a few ways to ease the pain when you have to leave your pet alone.
Train Your Pet to Feel Comfortable in a Crate
Open up your dog’s crate and play games where you throw treats in and out of the crate. Repeat this exercise several times each day and gradually close the door of the crate with your puppy inside for increments of time. Start slow but the longer you do this, the longer increment of time you keep your puppy in his or her crate. Also, when your dog is napping place him in his crate. You are helping your dog associate the crate with comfort, safety and positive things.
As your puppy becomes more and more comfortable with spending long times in the crate, give him or her a toy such as a stuffed Kong or a chew to work on. Before they can finish, take the toy away calmly. If your dog howls or barks for you to return it, leave them in the crate until they quiet down. Once calmed down, return the toy. This will show them you return when they are quiet and also rewards them for their good behavior.
Teach that it is OK to be Alone
Each day, allow some time for your puppy to be alone. Whether in a crate or in a quiet room by himself, this alone time will help your pet feel comfortable being alone. Even if you are retired, work from home or are a stay-at-home mom, this alone time for your pet is crucial to help them feel less stress once you do have to leave them alone. They won’t fear quiet alone time, but instead expect it as a normal part of their day.
Stay Calm When Leaving
When you leave the house, don’t make a big fuss over your pet. The more excited energy you project onto your pet the more anxious they will feel once you leave the house. Over time, this pattern of excitement followed by you leaving can increase the anxiety levels in your pet and make it harder and harder for your dog to handle being alone.
Give Your Pet Plenty of Exercise
Burning off energy through playtime, walks or games is a great thing to do with your dog before you leave the house. Not only does this give you some great bonding time with your pet, but it also lowers their energy level while you are away.
Yes, working with your pet on separation issues may seem like a lot of work at first, but in the long run, your neighbors will thank you, your furniture and home will thank you and most importantly, your dog will thank you for taking them time to do this.
Do you have a question for Brian? E-mail him at AskBrian@hsdayton.org. Brian Weltge is the President and CEO of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. The Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to building loving relationships between people and pets. Founded 113 years ago, it is the largest and most established no-kill animal welfare agency in the area. It focuses on pet adoptions, eliminating pet overpopulation, providing education and ensuring the humane treatment of animals. For more information about the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, call (937) 268-PETS (7387) or visit www.hsdayton.org.