Here at Online Dog Blog central I have to leave the house and my black Lab on a regular basis (don’t we all?) for work, groceries and even social stuff. And as all pet owners can tell you your best mate sometimes doesn’t look all that impressed and you get those big sad eyes that look right through you!
You get a look similar to this as you prepare to leave and in fact your preparation can often be the visual cues to your dog that you about to leave. As simple as picking up the car keys or putting on shoes and jacket can all be triggers for the dog to get upset and in extreme cases can lead to separation anxiety.
Dog separation anxiety does exist in our pets with several degrees of severity from mild to dangerous. Its not normally that hard for you to the owner to notice and can include the following;
- Your dog sometimes herds you or gets between you and the exit from your home. As if attempting in not letting you leave them home.
- Sometimes the dog will run away from you when you attempt to put him outside.
- Damage done to the house such as chewing, eating, urinating or stealing items and destroying them.
- Barking or aggressive changes in how they react to your preparations to leave.
- Other behavioral changes not in line with your pets normal behavior. They act different to how they normally are with you. I know I notice any slight changes in my guy but at 6 years old he isn’t a young growing puppy anymore.
I know I would like to take credit for my dog in how I bought him up and how he reacts when I plan to leave but I think it more likely was good luck and a good natured dog rather than expert tips but I will share how I approached this when he was young.
To get him used to being outside on his own I went outside with him and sat there for a period of time letting him explore. Once he was distracted by the outside world I would wander back in.
I noticed he took longer and longer to notice I was gone and so I added in the element of closing the door behind me. The first time he noticed after a while and stood at the door patiently. A few more times after that he would potter off down the yard to find something interesting.
I extended these outdoor times longer and longer and eventually introduced a command word for outside. And initiated a treat as well. As anyone can tell you Labradors are food orientated beasts so half my work was done at this point.
The point I am trying to make here are small changes, done over a period of several days to a week or two can guide your dog into the desired behavior. Now when I leave the house a tail is going furiously and he runs outside to his house to wait for me to bring a small treat. Just watch out the for the tail knocking things over on the way out!! But that’s a story for another time!