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by Denyse Lessard April 15, 2015 4 min read10 Comments
When you left the house to go to work that morning, you paid absolutely no attention to what might happen in your absence. But when you got back home that night, you were devastated upon knowing what did happen. First, there’s the second floor lady who complained the minute you parked your car in the driveway that your dog kept barking all day long and disturbed her big time. Then, as you turned the key into the lock and opened the squeaky door, you were shocked and understood you would have a ‘fun’ evening cleaning the mess. Your sweet little dog had turned into a monster during the day and ruined the sofa, chewed on your favorite shoes, peed on the rug, pulled the curtains on the floor and spread the whole content of the trash can in the kitchen...
If you ever felt that way, don’t despair. You are not alone. Thousands of dogs act that frustrating way while their master is away. And unfortunately, this is one the main reasons why so many masters abandon their pet.
First thing first, when you label a disorder, it’s already of some relief. That means the problem does exist and others have gone through the same... This problem is called separation anxiety. Now, here are a few tips to help you survive this nightmare and train your dog to your absence.
The first normal reaction a tired person coming home from work (and even a very rested and positive person!) would be tempted to have is anger. You might want to yell at the dog or punish him for all the mess he has caused in the house. So, here is my advice: please control yourself. No matter how upset you may be, punishing your dog will not only be useless because he won’t remember why he is being punished but is also very likely to aggravate the problem.
Your dog is not faking it: He really misses you and he is bored in your absence. So he tries whatever he can to get your attention... and it works!!! In some way... So, knowing that your dog is suffering from a real disorder might help you control your temper when he misbehaves...
He has to understand step by step (and it can be a long process, so please be patient!) that he cannot be with you 24 / 7. Train him to sleep in a different room. Make sure he is comfortable (give him a blanket, a basket, toys...) When you are about to go to bed, set him in that room, stay with him a little bit and leave. Now, here is the hardest part: if he whines, barks, cries, or all of the above, do not come back. Be firm. Be determined. He needs to understand that you too have a life and though you love him very much, your life does not necessarily revolves around his tiniest/fanciest(?) whims...
Okay, that sounds cruel but it is not! If you are very excited to see him when you come home, it will only make your departure worse the next morning. If you realize you have a very specific routine every morning before you leave, fool your dog! Change the order in which you do things and then leave. Upon arrival, pretend he is invisible for half an hour. Make your departures and arrivals as little ritualistic as possible.
This kind of disorder can take a while to fade away. But be positive. Rejoice over any improvement. And quite honestly, there are many people out there who successfully trained their dogs to be independent enough when they are not home. So, lock your shoes in your bedroom, hide the trash can and buy second hand furniture in the meantime!
If points 1 to 5 have not worked out well over a reasonable period of time, consult a professional dog trainer or ask your veterinarian for more tips and suggestions.
I have no doubt you love your dog but you do not want him to drive you crazy under any circumstances. So, apply these tips and you might see a big chunk of blue sky after the everlasting storm you think you are in...
Now, the ball is in your court. Have you ever experienced such a distressing situation with your dog? Have you tried some of the tips mentioned above? How successful have you been in the solving of that problem?
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE THERAPIST
Denyse Lessard is a therapist in alternative medicine.
She has an extensive educational background and has earned multiple degrees, including diplomas in Chinese medicine, Reflexology, Naturopathy & Iridology, and Homeopathy. She is also a member of the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec, and the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec.
When working with her patients, Denyse believes in not only helping pets achieve optimum health, but keeping them in tip-top shape for their entire lives.
We invite you to learn more about Denyse's expertise in the alternative field.
January 27, 2023
I appreciate your advice about consulting the vet or a professional dog trainer on how to train the dog to be independent. This will be on my to-do list once my puppy gets old enough. Right now, I think it’s best that I leave her in a doggie daycare if I wouldn’t be around for too long. https://www.barkhotelfordogs.com/playcare
March 17, 2020
This post is a very interesting and interesting topic to me. This post is really instructive. Because there are many different types of information given and there are many information to know about.
May 24, 2019
I completely agree with Cathy Thompson that it is very sad that your dog is not allowed to sleep with you. There are differing opinions about whether or not to share a bed with a dog. But not even allowing them into the bedroom is wrong, in my opinion, especially if there are no other pets to keep him/her company. I agree that being calm when leaving and coming home in order to normalize it is a healthy approach. The human’s energy is paramount in creating a calm dog.
April 26, 2019
I am always with my puppy when I go outside. But I also need to train my puppy for that as I can’t take her everywhere I go. For that, we should consult a dog training expert. There are many mobile apps where you can find dog training tips and dog experts as well.
March 29, 2019
I am doing this kind of training to my dog. I am setting there. I didn’t know I have to ignore him whenever I come back from work. I will try that training tip. Thanks.
April 11, 2019
I love my dog way too much to do all this. He goes everywhere i go, i leave him at daycare, run errands with him, i only shop or go to dog friendly places. I cant bear the thought of leaving him alone.
April 11, 2019
Great advice but disagree about dogs sleeping alone. May experts say the best way to bond with a dog is to let him sleep with u. After all, dogs are pack animals which is why they are happiest sleeping with or being in the bedroom with you. My dog is a rescue & had severe separation anxiety. He threw himself into our glass picture window when I walked over to a neighbor’s house. Luckily he wasn’t hurt but I realized how truly terrified he was to be separated from me. I don’t believe separation anxiety is fixed by “separation. “. Our dog has slept with us from the first day he came to his “forever home” after three previous owners. He quickly became a happy, confident, trusting dog who accepted our leaving him & would nap by the door until we returned. I have no doubt your dog became used to sleeping alone. I just think it is sad that he had to.
September 07, 2017
I guess i broke all the rules. Love my pug she goes every where i go sleeps with me. And never leave her alone. And yup shes spoiled does not eat dog food
April 18, 2019
The best way for people to help their dogs feel safe, happy, and secure is to crate train them. I would never ignore my dog when I get home. I hug him, and take him outside to relieve himself. If a dog has been left free to roam around a home and is ignored when the humans return, he will most likely relieve himself on the floor in front of his human.
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January 27, 2023
Thanks Elaina, your pet is blessed to have you