Having our furry companion join us everywhere we visit sounds great in theory; it’s simply not practical. From locations that don’t accept dogs to extended workdays away from the house, giving your dog the skills to stay solo is essential. If your dog can’t stay alone, there’s a higher chance of separation anxiety developing. Unfortunately, this condition is challenging to treat once established, often requiring training, behavior modification, and occasionally medication. To help minimize this likelihood, establish routines, skills, and know-how to handle being on their own, so they don’t panic every time you leave.
Start Your Routine with Crate Training
A crate is a safe, confined area that keeps your dog safe while you’re not home. As dogs are naturally denning animals, having this space isn’t considered cruel or unkind. It’s a private space where they can relax, complete with a comfortable blanket or bed. Properly introducing the crate is crucial to creating your dog. Never use the crate as a punishment or a negative space; you want the dog to connect positivity and calm with the area. Consider purchasing some safe, stuffable toys like a Kong to use when the dog is in the crate. The idea is to occupy and distract your pup while he’s in the crate by giving him high-value treats. Simply fill the Kong with peanut butter or yogurt and present it when he’s in the crate. Start with short time intervals in the crate, building as your dog becomes more comfortable with it.
Don’t Stress Over Leaving Your Dog
While it’s always nice to give your dog a few extra snuggles and kisses before leaving, leaving your dog at home shouldn’t be a significant event. In fact, it shouldn’t be acknowledged at all. When getting ready to go, simply say bye to your dog and walk out the door. Intervals of time should be brief (only a few minutes at first), and coming back inside should also be made minimal. Many pet owners accidentally encourage separation anxiety from their pup by lavishing their pet in love the second they walk in the door. You want to remain calm and relaxed. Ignore excessive greetings (whining, jumping, body slamming, or barking). When the dog has calmed down, you can greet your dog and enjoy some playtime.
Consider Breaking Up Their Day
Hiring a dog walking service is the perfect solution if you’re gone for more than four hours a day. Having daily physical exercise while you’re at work will help prevent boredom and keep anxiety at a minimum. Always look for a pet sitter that walks your dog around the same time each day, as routines are essential for canine companions. The service will also allow your dog to relieve themselves.
Always Find Adequate Care
When traveling for extended periods of time, find a pet hotel to take care of your pet. Dogs can’t be left for longer than eight hours (approximately), making overnight trips without them nearly impossible. Try to find a facility that caters to your dog’s personality. Social dogs should be allowed to play, interact, and romp around with other dogs throughout the day. Shy or timid dogs would do better with an in-home pet sitting option. Always ask the hotel or company for direct referrals to previous clients before deciding.
Many of these facilities have additional add-on services to improve your dog’s experience. These can include extended walks or playtime, comfortable bedding, upgraded suites, treats, or grooming options. If your dog has never stayed at a boarding facility, you may want to purchase a single overnight before your trip to ensure your dog adapts well. If the location allows it, consider bringing a few toys or treats from home to lessen the stress of a new location.
Keep Them Comfortable at Home
If your dog is anxious in a facility, consider hiring an in-home pet sitter. These individuals will stay at your residence while you are gone, caring for your dog in your home. Services can include overnight care, administering medications, feeding, watering, walks, or play sessions. Always check references for these services, primarily if you’ve never used them before. Many people feel more comfortable with a doorbell camera installed, so they can physically see when the in-home care team arrives and leaves throughout the day. While this isn’t necessary, it’s an excellent way to stay connected to your dog even when you’re traveling.