Our expert says:
Dog Behaviour Expert
Hi Kasandra, if this happens every time you go out you unfortunately have the beginning of seperation anxiety, which, trust me, is not somewhere you want to go! What we dont often realize is that sometimes we can give our dogs too much love and attention, especially if an only dog. All this achieves is that the dog thinks it cant cope on its own and situations such as you are experiencing occur.
Try doing some of the following and if you are not coming right, do get in touch with a professional. The one thing i can guarantee, that if this is the beginning of Sep. Anx, it will only get worse!
1. If your dog follows you around constantly while in the home, start walking through a door and shutting it behind you. Totally ignore the dog. After a few seconds walk back into the room, again ignoring the dog. Do this as often as you can during the day, slowly and gradually building up the time period you are away.
2. I would imagine that the dog spends a good deal of time with you when you are home? If this is the case, start to leave the dog outside, with a really nice big chewy bone for a few minutes, several times a day. When you open the door to bring the dog back inside, take the bone away. What we are doing here, is building up the dogs confidence of being alone, changing its perception of being alone into a rewarding one, and increasing your position in the combined human/canine hierarchy. You really do need to practice this over and over, and gradually build up the time period. With dogs it is important to stagger the times i.e. start with 5 minutes, build up to 15 mins, down again to 10 minutes. This way i dog will be able to cope much easier.
3. Once the dog is coping with the above, then bring in a similar exercise. Give him the bone to chew on and go about your normal routine for leaving. Leve the house for 5 minutes, then walk back in (all the time ignoring the dog), take away the bone, sit for a while and then repeat the process, over and over. Again, gradually build up the time period while you are away.
4. Put the dog on a 'work to earn' regime - no more freebies! Get the dog to sit for food, sit for attention, even bringing in a 'wait' at doors etc. They will raise you up in the hierarchy even more.
5. Ignore demanding attention - attention on your terms or not at all. This does not mean we no longer love or pay attention to our dogs, rather that as the leaders we decide when attention is given. You can ignore the demanding behaviour, wait till the dog gives up and then, by all means, call it back and give attention.
6. If you are leaving dog outside, make a game of leaving treats all over the garden for it to find.
7. Dont forget management - it may be easier for you to decide on a safe place in the home to leve your dog where damange will be less. If you can do this, then practice the alone time with the bone in this location.
Good luck and if the situation does not get better with above, do get help. Thanks Scotty
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