Going back to work soon? Use this handy blog to help your dog cope at home alone!
My top five tips on addressing separation anxiety for dogs
- Create a safe haven. To help our dogs to be happy at home, we need to make sure they are comfortable when they are left alone. There are a number of ways to do this, including making a bed area for them to relax in or playing background music such as reggae or classical; these genres are known to aid the relaxation process. Make sure that the safe haven is where you drop treats and have toys available so your dog wants to be there. Adaptil pheromone can also help to relax them, this is something you need to plug in nearby the safe haven.
- Teach them a settle. This skill is often overlooked. It can be compared to the context of human behaviour because just as we need to be taught to relax with yoga and meditation – our dogs do too! Start to teach your dog to settle. A settle is them laying down but in such a way that it promotes relaxation, often when they are on their side with their hips popped over a little. Any time you see your dog laying down like this give them a treat.
- Promote alone time. We can help to influence some alone time at home. For example, if your dog follows you to the toilet then you pop some treats outside the bathroom door before you go in; this gives them exposure to being alone for a few seconds and getting a nice treat creating positive associations at the same time. Another technique is to try a Kong on a rope tied in a room where no one spends too much time. Fill it with goodies for them and randomly fill it every few days. This will hopefully encourage investigation and alone time away from you as your dog will start to check whether a tasty treat has appeared in the Kong.
- Systematic desensitisation (getting them gradually used to being home alone). A desensitisation program alongside the above techniques is best. You would need to get a suitably qualified behaviourist to help you with this but the concept is essentially leaving your dog for snippets to start with, gradually building them up to longer periods of time.
- Set them up for success. Make sure that you are giving your pet enough playtime, stimulation, and exercise before you leave them home alone.
If you are really struggling or your dog is please get a qualified behaviour expert to help. I offer remote consultations to help tackle these issues. Please contact me email@example.com