If your dog shows signs of separation anxiety or nervousness when you depart such as whimpering and crying at the door, barking during the day, destroying things, or relieving in the house, here’s how you can ease his distress:

    • Be understanding. The dog is doing this because he’s anxious. Heís not misbehaving or being spiteful. For that reason, don’t punish or isolate him. Either action only worsens the problem.

 

    • Give your dog structure by teaching him obedience, and even some tricks, and be consistent in your expectations. Walk your dog in a heel position right next to your ankle and have him sit/stay before and after entering or exiting doors. Make sure he sees you as he pack leader and not ‘his’ follower.

 

    • Try feeding your dog his main meal just as you are leaving the house. You can also hide part of his meal around the house, which will give him something to do while you are away.

 

    • Help your dog forget to be lonesome. An owner can help an anxious dog by redirecting his behavior. Fill a toy with kibbles or biscuits and present the toy to the dog before departing. He may become so engrossed in ferreting out the stuffed goodies that he’ll forget to be upset.

 

    • Leave an old t-shirt, piece of clothing or stuffed toy with your odor on it near your dog’s bed or on the floor. Make sure you won’t mind if your dog destroys it.

 

    • Play classical music on a low volume while you are away.

 

    • Desensitize your dog to triggers. Put your shoes on and not go anywhere. Put your coat on, then sit down to read the paper. Pick up your car keys and just carry them around with you, jangling along as you go about your business.

 

    • Downplay your comings and goings — do not make a big deal of leaving the house or of coming home. Pay little or no attention to your dog when preparing to leave the house. Ignore him for 10 minutes and then slip out the door with no fuss. That means no long, emotional goodbyes when leaving or wildly enthusiastic hellos when arriving home.

 

    • Gradually get him used to solitude. Develop a plan to help your dog learn to tolerate being alone. Offer him a treat-stuffed toy, then leave the house for a minute or two. As your dog adjusts to being alone, gradually prolong the amount of time you’re gone.

 

    • Teach your dog to love his crate/kennel – feed him in it, put an item with your odor in it, give him a treat or food-filled toy in it, etc.

 

    • Don’t let your dog become too ‘clingy’ and dependent on you every second you are together. When he is quiet and calm go and give him some praise, make it clear you are happy with him. Teach him to down/stay away from you for longer and longer periods of time.

 

    • If he is a barker, purchase a ultrasonic bark suppressor that is triggered by his bark, but only after you’ve tried all of the above suggestions.

 

  • Get him some company. A pet-sitter/walker or doggie day-care is a big help for dogs that cannot seem to overcome separation anxiety.
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