If your pup gets nervous, whiny, or barks a lot when you leave for work, to run errands, or just to go get the mail, it can be frustrating to try and deal with the issue. It may be difficult to pinpoint how to help your dog relax and calm down, but there are some general tips you can try if you’re having a hard time.
Try Not to Pay Attention to or Coddle the Nervous Behavior
Some dogs are tricksters—they know that if they bark or whine, they’ll get attention. If you close the door, only to reopen it to comfort your pup for a few more seconds before leaving, this perpetuates the idea that they’ll get positive attention for bad behavior. Try to resist doing things like this, and there’s a chance that your dog’s poor habits will subside.
Consider Getting Your Dog a Crate
Crate training is a popular method for dog training because it establishes a “room” for your dog that’s all his own. Having this space lets your dog feel safe and comfortable—perfect in high stress times such as when you leave.
Maintain Proper Behavior Training At All Times
Getting your dog acclimated to your daily life doesn’t mean just training the dog when you leave for the day. Instead, you should instill a sense of pack mentality to your dog at all times—for instance, always show that you are the one in charge, so that when you leave, your dog will feel, for lack of a better word, embarrassed to misbehave in your absence.
Change the Dog’s Routine If You Can
If your pup is simply scared of being alone for long stretches of time, you might see if you can work up to longer periods of time or altering your schedule to be home a bit more. Of course, that’s not feasible for everyone—if you can’t come home yourself, though, perhaps hiring a dog walker to come by a few times a week can assuage your dog’s anxiety. This can teach your dog that even though you’re not at home, they’re not being abandoned—this can be an especially good tip for shelter or rescue dogs who may have trust and abandonment issues.
Exercise Your Dog More
Another way you can help manage your dog’s anxiety is to tire them out. Take your pup for a jog or add another long walk to his or her daily routine, and add indoor playtime as well so that when you do have to leave your home, all they’ll want to do is take a nap.
If none of these tips seem to be helping, you may want to discuss the matter with your vet or a professional dog trainer to rule out any health issues or to see if they have any better advice. If you’ve conquered separation anxiety with your pet, let us know how you did it!