Leaving Your Dog Home Alone
One of the most appealing qualities of a dog is the desire to enjoy the company of other dogs and their owners. However, there are potential problems for the owner who does not take steps to build a healthy relationship with their dog and teach their pup to be relaxed when left alone.
In many cases, the importance of this is not apparent until things go wrong. In extreme cases, owners require professional help when their dog engages in behaviors such as destructive chewing, whining or howling, and/or urination and defecation when left alone.
As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Below are some tips for this.
Take every opportunity to introduce your pup to new experiences, new people and new places. Your aim should be to build confidence and avoid over attachment to one person. Introduce your dog to your friends and neighbors, and teach her to be relaxed with other people.
Crate training offers many benefits. It prevents your pup from following you around the house; it enables you to be away but still in sight, and it gives your dog her own space and place of comfort and safety. Even older dogs can be introduced to a crate. Make sure the crate is comfortable, covering it with a blanket and giving your dog a food- delivering toy, such as a Kong, while the she is crated.
The most stressful time for your pup is immediately after you leave. A simple training program will help. Start by walking a distance away from your pup, turning to walk back, greet calmly and reward a good response (if your dog becomes over excited, ask for and reward a SIT or a DOWN). Then leave the room, pause briefly out of sight and return as before. Gradually increase the duration of absence. When your pup is secure and relaxed when you are out of sight, go out of the house and return a few seconds later. As before, gradually increase the duration of absence.
A Calm Exit
Do not make a fuss before going out. Too much attention may increase your pup’s insecurity. Your pup will not understand your words but will have a heightened sense of something happening.
A Calm Return
While it is nice to be greeted by a dog that is clearly delighted to see you, do not make too much fuss when you return this attention. It is advisable to ignore your dog if she greets you while jumping and barking.
There is no single way to teach a dog to be relaxed when alone. Each dog is different and must be treated differently, but the points listed above will help you teach your dog to be content when left alone.