On yesterday's blog post, I explained a bit about Separation Anxiety in dogs, particularly daycare dogs. Today I wanted to begin discussing the subject more by offering you some tips that will help you and your pet overcome this disorder. In my opinion, these tips are so easy and the key to successfully ridding your dog (heck, maybe even your kid lol) of S.A. However they can be most difficult for us humans to do. :) Let's hop to it!
Be EXTREMELY conscious of your "Comings & Goings"
When you leave your dog ANYWHERE (home, work, it's crate/kennel, the car for a minute, DOGGIE DAYCARE or the groomer) DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT butter them up with affection. No kisses, cuddles or long good byes... Spin on your heels and leave, don't make eye contact with them or say anything! In doing this, you will portray to the K9 mind that your "Comings & Goings" mean nothing. You leaving shall not affect their mood or behavior.
When we do the opposite of this (by baby talking them, hugging them, whimpering and telling them everything is going to be OK, generally making a scene...) our dogs are literally thinking, "Holy cow, they are not OK right now, I need to worry about them!". Most of us tend to think that a dog's anxiety is them missing us and not wanting to be alone, it couldn't be further from the truth. They are worried about us because we act so wacky every time we leave them! They think we are having major issues that they need to try and resolve.
Coming home or picking your dog up from ANYWHERE should be no different. DO NOT greet them or acknowledge them right away! It is all about timing, anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes. Wait until your dog is displaying some behavior that you want (like sitting calmly) then go in for the hug and cuddles. Doing the opposite of this, you are basically rewarding your dog for acting like a maniac (jumping, howling, fidgeting, etc...) when you pick them up.
Make them do something for you! All the time!
This is quite simple, for example: Before you let your dog outside or through any type of doorway, make them sit and wait until you say it's OK. Before you give your dog a meal, make them sit and wait until you say it's OK. There are many positive things you can make your dog do for you. Those two things are a great start that will get you on the right track. Doing so will help your dog be more patient and attentive to you and your commands. They want to please!
Socialize them early
If you have a young puppy or are planning on getting one please socialize them early (before six months is key). Get them into doggie daycare, take them to the dog park and on walks frequently. Have them meet many different people (young, old, tall, short, etc...) with a goal of having them sit and stay calmly while being pet.
Dogs are pack animals and the K9 brain is very different from our own. Dogs thrive off of strong leadership. If they aren't getting it they will try their best to be the leader. Unfortunately this will lead to circumstances that we will not enjoy.
Some may think this is all a bit harsh but the opposite is what is harsh, fulfilling our needy little needs and not our dogs'. I'm not saying we can't love our pets, we need to love them more and strive to be in tune with them.
Be on the lookout for the conclusion, Separation Anxiety Part 3. It will give more insight and include even more helpful tips.
Have a great weekend!
*Edit* Separation Anxiety PART 3