When my mother was in college, she had a German shepherd named Sherry. Sherry didn't mind if my mother left the house, or my uncle, or my grandmother. If my great-grandmother left the house (which she did at least once a week to go to the hairdresser) Sherry would get very upset. She would go to my great-grandmother's room and take things. A hairbrush would end up in the living room. One slipper would be deposited in the kitchen; the other would find its way to the den. As far as Sherry was concerned, my great-grandmother was not allowed to leave.
Dogs are social animals, and some dogs experience separation anxiety when their people aren't around. In some dogs, the feelings they experience are mild; other dogs become so upset that they may injure themselves in their panic.
Attention and companionship is number one on your dog's list of wants. If the whole human family is gone, your dog may be bored. A bored dog can become a destructive dog, chewing whatever is available to chew, furniture, shoes, clothes, or just about anything. Destructive behavior is not "revenge". Your dog is behaving this way because he is upset and frightened.
So how do you deal with separation anxiety? Teach your dog that being alone is not a negative experience. Before you go out, give your dog a special treat, maybe a Kong filled with tasty snacks, a new rawhide, or a squeaky toy. You want your dog to learn that being left home is a positive experience.
You can also help your dog overcome separation anxiety by being unpredictable. Put your coat on, get your keys, and do everything you do before you leave the house, but don't leave. Your dog won't get upset when you get your keys out if he doesn't know for sure that you're leaving. Another way to help ease separation anxiety is to go out for just a few minutes, then come back.
One of my family's dogs used to chew her tail when she was left home alone. The vet told us that she might be nervous when she was by herself. Leaving a radio or television on while you're not home can be a kind of company and help mask some of the strange and scary noises outside.
Thank you for this great information. This is my next big step with my little girl.
I have left her alone with Gramma and I have left her alone without anyone in the house for a total of maybe 4 hours on two occasions (two hour each time).
I am looking forward to working this out. In fact today is when we are starting.
I was told that when I return after leaving, to not make a big deal out of it as the dog maybe very very glad to see you, naturally but simply just say hi. Don't get into a major excitement mode and make it a big deal to see the dog upon the return. Just be very casual like it was never a big deal that you left in the first place. My dog goes totally wiggly when I get home, rubbing up against me and taking one of her toys in her mouth, tail curled and head held high, circling me forever more, following my every step. As cute as it is, I try not to make a big deal about it.
After I have been back for a few minutes (maybe 5) I crouch down to her level and say hello with a pat and maybe a tug if she has her toy still. I may pick her up and cuddle her for a few seconds before putting her down to play a bit.
If you have been gone for awhile, it is very important to take your dog outside right away so it may relieve itself.
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