Separation Anxiety

When Leaving

Pay no attention to your dog for 20-30 minutes before you go out. When you leave, make it low key, without elaborate good-byes, just walk out the door. Leave a special toy or a treat to distract the dog when you go out and remove the item upon your return. Make the item you give them something special, like a food-filled treat, so that your leaving is associated with something positive. The treat should also occupy your dog during those critical first moments after your departure.

When Returning

Ignore your dog until he/she is quiet and relaxed, and then interact on your own. Do not reprimand your dog for destructive behavior or for urinating or defecating in the house.

When at Home

Interact with your dog only at your initiative and when the dog is relaxed. You may not realize it, but even eye contact can be rewarding to a dog seeking attention. Interact with your dog only when he is quiet.

No matter what you find when you come home remember that your dog could not control himself/herself when you were away. Punishment will not help, and will only increase his anxiety.

Teach your dog to stay calm as you move away; gradually increase distance and time away. Put your coat on or play with your keys at times other than departure.

Certain cues tell your dog that you’re getting ready to leave. When he sees these he begins to panic. This technique will help him to become indifferent to those cues.

Again, show your dog that you like to play with him when he’s calm and relaxed. To encourage independence, avoid constant physical contact with your dog. Encourage him to lie down near you but not in contact with you.

Teach your dog to be alone, little by little. Have him sit or lie down and stay in place as you back away, praising his calm behavior. Gradually increase your distance and time away, to help him become more independent and cope with being alone.

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