Training Tips and Tricks: Separation Anxiety
Does your dog get anxious when you leave him/her alone?
If you’re like so many other pet parents, you are a proud parent of a “Pandemic Puppy”.
While it’s great to spend lots of time with your new family member, it’s very possible that separation anxiety could have crept in during your bonding time, as your dog most likely got very little alone time during quarantine.
It is best to work with a professional trainer to curb separation anxiety, but here are some tips in the meantime:
- Identify “separation triggers” like grabbing your keys, or putting on your shoes or jacket. These triggers tell your dog, “I’m leaving you!”
- Work to desensitize your dog to these triggers by teaching them they do not always mean you’re leaving. For example, pick up your keys, then walk around with them inside. Or put on your jacket and go to the couch and watch TV.
- Practice Leaving! This shows your dog that walking out the door doesn’t have to be a big deal. Your dog is used to you leaving for long periods of time, but if you walk out then right back in, they will learn it’s not the end of the world each time you leave. Gradually build time outside to keep your dog guessing, and they will start to feel more comfortable each time you leave knowing it may not be as long this time.
- Make sure to not make a big deal when you get home. A large part of separation anxiety is about the anticipation of you returning, so if your return is boring, it will not be as exciting each time you arrive home. When you come home, do not make eye contact with your dog, do not pet them or get overly excited. Wait until your dog settles down, then calmly pet them after a few minutes.