Not only are your kids grumbling about back-to-school time; your dog isn’t so happy either. With your schedules gearing up, your pup has a lot less face time with his favorite family. And according to the ASPCA, dogs with separation anxiety can display some unwanted behaviors: going to the bathroom in the house, chewing, barking, and digging to escape. So, here are some helpful tips to help your pooch adjust to more alone time (make sure to rule out medical problems that would cause issues such as excessive urination):
1. Leave a toy with your dog each time you leave.
A toy such as a Kong with a treat inside will distract your dog and have him relate something pleasant with your departure.
2. Perform “predeparture” rituals without actually leaving.
A dog can associate activities such as picking up your keys or putting on shoes with your leaving for extended periods of time. Gradually perform the rituals that make your dog anxious without actually leaving the home. This will help lessen her anxiety.
3. Be calm when saying “Hello” and “Good-bye.”
Don’t teach your dog that your coming and going is an intensely emotional experience.
4. Crate your dog…
…but only if your dog views his crate as a safe haven.
5. Exercise your dog.
Before you leave, make sure to tire out your pooch so he doesn’t resort to destructive behaviors due to boredom.
6. Desensitize your dog to your absence.
Start off with a short absence, and gradually work your way up to longer periods. During this time, you will not be able to leave your dog alone during the day except for desensitizing sessions. Make plans such as a dogsitter. See the ASPCA article for more information on desensitizing your dog.
7. If all else fails, contact your vet.
If your dog has severe separation anxiety that you cannot cope with alone, please see a medical professional.
8. Don’t punish your pet.
Your pet isn’t being naughty; he’s sending you a message that he’s upset. Respond to that, and help him through his issue. You’ll both be much happier!