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A well trained dog is the least likely dog to be surrendered. In addition to obedience training, your dog should be taught how to cope with being left alone. For some dogs, this is very simple, but for others separation anxiety is a very difficult struggle. Here are some tips for teaching your dog these coping mechanisms:
- Resist reprimand. When you return home to find your couch chewed on or plants tipped over, resist the urge to scold your dog. They will not understand why they are being punished unless they are caught in the act. They will probably be so happy to see you they will have forgotten what they were doing before you walked through the door.
- Ignore excited behaviors. When your dog is jumping on you or running through the house, ignore them and do not make eye contact. Once they are calm, reward them with calm petting and calm attention.
- No big hoopla when you are coming or going. Making a big fuss over hellos or good-byes creates a big scene, simply leave without acknowledging them. If your dog becomes anxious as you are beginning to leave, desensitize them to these cues. Prepare to leave, and then don’t. You can repeat this after they have calmed down. You can also give them a toy or a treat to distract them while you are preparing to leave. When you return, ignore them for awhile if they are not calm. If they are calm, give them a brief, calm greeting.
- Develop independence. Give them a location (i.e. bed or kennel) that is all theirs. By nature dogs have a den, which is a safe environment to them. You can start by creating a den in close proximity to you, but over time you can increase this distance. Eventually, you will be able to be in separate rooms and your dog will feel confident.
If you have any questions about tips for separation anxiety or any type of training, please feel free to contact us (510) 797-2323. If we are unable to answer your questions, we will be able to refer you to a trainer or behavioral consultant.