Confinement training to avoid dog separation anxiety

When you are home, have your dog familiar with being in confined space such as a small room, pen or crate. Start with short periods and then increase the time he spends in it. Feed him in the confined space, let him have his favourite bone to be used as a stress reliever while he is in there.

Some toys are developed to entertain, or occupy your dog when you leave. These work because your dog’s mind is stimulated while attempting to remove treats from a toy, which then relaxes their mind, and they sleep.

If he barks when in the confined space, look for ways to control that. Teaching him “quiet” is good, and interrupting the barking so he learns there is no reward from it also works. Seek help from an animal behaviour specialist if the barking is resulting in complaints from the neighbours or destruction of property. No one wants annoyed neighbours, or damaged property, and the sooner you get expert advice, the better.

When you leave him, do so quietly and don’t provide cues. Do not say anything. Go through your leaving routine quietly, pick up car keys, open garage doors, and start the car. Then, come back inside paying no attention to your dog. Do what you always do when leaving—role-play if it helps. Come back in your home once more, and pay no attention to your dog. Walk past him, wave and smile if he is quiet but if he is banging at the door of the pen, crate or the confinement area, ignore it and walk away.

Dogs often enjoy music and the TV, so try leaving it on for them. It provides a familiar background sound and sight for them giving them a feeling of security.

Change your routine

It is possible for your dog to recognize a series of actions associated with leaving your premises; you have to be clever. Changing your dog’s habits often means changing your own and that can be difficult—we are creatures of habit—but changing your routine can be very helpful.

Use a different door, put your coat and bag in different places. Make changes to create a different picture. If you are watching TV, or working on the computer, and your dog gets up every time you get up, simply get up and sit down again.

Your dog does not have to follow you everywhere. Yes, they can watch but they should be able to wait until you request their company. These little changes will help teach your dog to have the self-confidence he needs to handle being alone.

Adapted from:

How To Stop Bad Dog Behaviour: Solutions That Work For Common Dog Problems