Do you worry that your dog will howl the house down, be destructive or have an accident any time you leave them alone? If so, you’re not alone – this is a common problem which many dog owners face, particularly since recent lockdowns and the increased prevalence in working from home that followed. For many of our dogs, they may only now be experiencing the routine change as their owners start going back into the office more often. For those who don’t have to leave their dogs daily for work, it can be difficult to know how to start introducing your dog to time alone so that you can go out worry-free should you need to. As dog trainers, we’ve seen how signs of separation anxiety developing in our dogs has become more and more commonplace – this is why we have compiled a list of our top tips for how to approach absence training with your pups!
Avoid Doing Too Much, Too Soon
The worst mistake we can make it to rush the process – this can lead to our dogs panicking and having a bad experience, as well as losing confidence. The key to absence training is ensuring our dogs feel calm and confident because they know we are going to come back before anything bad happens. If we leave them for too long and they have a stressful time while we’re gone, then they will never learn that important lesson!
Contact a Trainer/Behaviourist
Absence training can be a difficult process and it will be made so much easier with the guidance of a qualified professional. For young puppies, a qualified trainer should be able to help you get things started the right way. For those of you whose dogs are older or showing more severe signs of separation anxiety, a qualified behaviourist is worth their weight in gold. More info on separation anxiety help can be found here
Clinical separation anxiety can be incredibly difficult to correct and can be easily made worse if we do the wrong thing. There is no point muddling through it alone or paying people who don’t have the expertise to help you and your dog – investing in a qualified behaviourist is the most economic way to approach this issue, both in terms of the time and the money you will have spent by the time you’re done!
Commit to a Schedule Change to Support Them
We know it can seem drastic, but this is important if we want to make progress. It really is no good spending your time at home carefully acclimatising your dog to you leaving for short periods, only to then leave them for hours the next day. Your dog desperately needs your support if they’re to learn how to be alone without panicking.
Commit to Gradual Training to Build Confidence
It can certainly be tedious for us humans but, as we’ve touched on above, rushing things can quickly cause and compound problems. We need to be reliable, patient and trustworthy in order to show our dogs that there’s nothing to worry about. Rushing will, ultimately, set your training back and force you to spend even longer going through the repetitive steps needed to make progress. So, remember, “slow and steady” and all that!
Consider a Dog Walker/Pet Sitter in the Interim
A reliable professional such as a dog walker or pet sitter, who can take your dog out during the day or pop in to visit them, is a great way to work around the scheduling issues many of us face when dealing with separation anxiety. Check out our blog on how to choose a dog walker
for help finding the right person for you and your pup.