Time away

I'm a home body; I love nothing more than an evening when we are all snuggled on the couch watching a good movie and of course the dogs love this too. I have a great job; I make my own hours which means I'm home alot. But there are times when I need to go out; or want to go out without the dogs and the dogs have to accept this as part of life with humans. So it is important to start teaching them how to be okay with it right from the start. Many people try not to go out when they have a new dog; often having someone sit with the new addition if they are required to go out. Not good. If your dog is never alone; then they will not handle being alone well.

This is the same whether you have one dog or six, they should all be okay being alone. I have three dogs and I often take two out leaving one at home; it is good for them. Dogs need to be able to deal with things on their own; just like people. If you are always with your dog offering no experience with being alone; it can be a very frightening situation for them when the time comes and they must be alone. All dogs would prefer to be with us all the time; but in our world that just doesn't happen.

I have worked with dogs who have never been separated from one another; it was not an easy task. The two dogs were so preoccupied by the fact that the other dog was missing that we got no where. I left the family with homework for several weeks; they had to take each dog out separately for a walk for a month before we could even start obedience. This did two things; allowed the dog on the walk to learn how to deal with life outside of the home on their own and the one left at home learned that they could survive being alone at home. This made for two much more adaptable dogs.

The more varied experiences you give your dog when they are young the better. And that includes being alone; teaching them that being alone is okay. You will return and you will again leave. Never leaving can actually cause a very serious issue; separation anxiety. A dog with true separation anxiety is a very stressed out dog and no dog should live with this amount of upset.

If you have a dog with separation anxiety already then you have alot of work to do. You will need to start with baby steps and work up to longer absences and may run into obstacles along the way. The most important thing to remember is that dogs do not act in malice; a stressed dog simply reacts to stress. All behaviors are attempts to relieve their stress. That can be displayed in many forms; some dogs actually try to leave the home to find you, others deficate in the home or crate and others bark or howl. I have worked with alot of separation cases; one was so bad that the dog hurled itself at windows until he finally broke through to get out.

The common solution for separation anxiety is to get another dog; this does not always work. The problem is you; the dog that displays separation anxiety has problems with YOU leaving. The addition of another dog can leave the guardian with more work and the original dog still anxious. You need to start working with the dog that is exhibiting the anxiety and get it under control before adding another dog to the equation.

When you start working on an issue or need to leave; entrances and exits should always be low key, yes easier said than done. Remember the bigger the theatric's the more attention is put onto these events. So slip out and slip in creating a "no big deal" scenario. Find an experienced positive trainer who deals with behavior modifiction to get you onto the right track.

How often do you see dogs sitting in parking lots in their owners cars? I see it alot and no matter what the temperature is outside I shake my head. "Do you really think your dog enjoys this?" Typically the dogs look very stressed or bored beyond belief. A quick errand is one thing but shopping or working all day with your dog left in the car? Please, leave them at home in your nice comfy house.

Spending as much time with your dog as possible is a great thing; but never leaving them alone is not. So; go out and have some fun alone. You and your dog will be much happier if you do.

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