We need to get our dogs used to being home alone again. Start by allowing time apart inside the home. Leave your dog in another room of the house while you’re working or doing chores. Then, slowly acclimate your dog to you leaving the house. Leave for 2 minutes, then 5, then 10, and gradually increase these bouts of separation. Do this a few times each day, and your dog will soon learn to trust that you’re not leaving forever and that you will be back! Make sure not to make a fuss over them when you return.
Keep your dog entertained
Use treat toys to distract your dog while you can’t be together so that they don’t have the time to miss you. You could stuff a Kong (or another food toy) with their favourite snack or spread peanut butter (xylitol free) onto a lick mat. Give your dog a fun-filled activity to keep them occupied and entertained. That way, they’re much less likely to use those gnashers on something they shouldn’t. Like your dining room chair legs or the sofa cushions!
Play hard to get sometimes
Your dog needs to understand that although you love them to pieces, they can’t have your attention 100% of the time. We know it’s tough but try to ignore your pup on certain occasions, especially if they’re particularly demanding or attention-seeking. Try not to pet your dog or even look in their direction, as any form of attention. Even a ‘no’ can be taken as a positive reinforcement that will encourage them to behave similarly in the future.
Mix up your leaving cues
Dogs are good at learning our exit routines. When you grab your coat or keys, our pups soon realise that means you’re leaving them. To bring that anxiety down, get your dog used to these leaving cues but don’t leave the house. You could put on your shoes and sit down for a couple of hours in front of the TV. Soon enough, your dog won’t feel that anxiety whenever they see or hear a particularly triggering cue.
You could also pick up your keys and pop a jacket on, then undo these actions. Again, repeat picking up your keys, popping your coat on, leaving the house and coming back in. The aim is to make your moves unpredictable.
If you start preparing your dog for their new normal now, then you’ll have a much happier pooch at home once it’s time to get back to the office or enjoy a well-deserved day out. That being said, consistency is key, so everyone at home will need to be on board and stick with the training process. It’s also a good idea to be mindful of how your dog may react outside the home too. There may be other people and dogs they haven’t seen in a while, making them nervous or fearful. Think about how you’ll manage that so your pooch and others have a positive experience when out and about.
We know every dog is different, and if your dog is still struggling to adjust, a qualified behaviourist is the next best step in helping to solve any issues.