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Leaving a dog with a tired body and a full tummy are good first steps. Make sure your dog has been well-exercised before you leave so that he is physically calm. Let him drain his pent up energy on positive physical and mental challenges during the walk instead of through his jaws on your couch.
For most dogs, this is more than a jaunt in the back yard or a ten minute cruise around the block. It is a long power walk that tires his body for the multi-hour rest break which would normally follow. The meal after the walk gives your dog a belly full of food to digest. Along with the exercise, this sends a dog to a natural calm restful state.
Before you begin your departure routines, send your dog to his Place and wait until he achieves calm relaxation. Have time set aside to repeat this calming process without feeling rushed every time his anxiety rises (it will) as you jingle your keys, put on your shoes and open the door. Do all silently using calm assertive body language.
Before leaving, give your dog something to chew on like a raw frozen marrow bone. Dogs drain anxiety, tension and energy by biting and chewing. In his relaxed state following exercise and a meal, this is very good entertainment for at least a few hours.
As a rule of thumb, your dog needs a bathroom break, to stretch his legs if crated, and social contact every 4 hours. If you are gone longer with your workday, give him something to look forward to with a dog walker or dog park playgroup service.
When you return home, pretend like you've only been gone for a minute or two to go out and get the mail. Hug and rub your pup only after he calms down a few minutes later. The idea is to give him affection which serves as a reward only when he is calm. This teaches him that calm relaxation is the state of mind and being we desire, plus that our comings and goings are not a cause for over-excited concern.
Contact us for a Home Behavior Consult. It would be our honor to help you for your dog!
Does your dog follow you around the house continually? This is of course grounded in love and trust, but is more an obsession with your dog not thinking for himself or being comfortable in his own skin. He is stuck following your feet his dusty brain set to zero.
You revel in your dog's adoration but are not helping him by nurturing obsessive anxiety. It's a small jump to the panic zone for a dog who is overly dependent on you. He becomes quite lost when you leave, not knowing how to cope on his own for even the shortest time. What should you do instead? Create and practice sending your pup to his "place" when he shadows you.
A dog who is stable and balanced, who enjoys calm assertive leadership, and whose canine needs are met daily will experience discomfort with being separated from the pack. But severe red zone anxiety only results from a dog who is already living with insecure anxiety as a state of mind and being. This dog's severe panic is not a huge step but a predicable smaller jump.
See Fearful Dogs
... refers to the hurricane force stress experienced by a dog who cannot peacefully wait for his owner to return home after leaving. This dog experiences spiraling panic and gets stuck at the highest level. Owners learn from neighbors about the pup's non-stop howling and return to a home torn to shreds. Their pup may have even injured himself breaking out of his crate, or busting through doors and windows as he tried to return inside the house from the yard, or to escape from the house to the hinderlands.
Create a place for your dog (a bed on the floor or in his crate) which is situated in the living room. It is like giving him his own lazy boy chair. This is where he goes when the family gathers or you want him to calmly relax. Practice sending him there when you are not leaving, following through until he achieves calm relaxation instead of pushing the Pause button.
Never imprison your dog in his crate. Practice making it his "pup tent." It should be his friendly safe bedroom, the only square feet in your home to call his own. Don't shove him inside and bang the door shut. Use gentle but firm insistence instead. Practice crating him when you are home.
Leaving a dog home alone - splitting him from the pack - triggers a primal instinct. In the wild, a solo dog becomes hopeless when stripped of the pack's hunting prowess and predator protection.
It then becomes a matter of degrees. Some anxiety is natural but extreme enduring panic means the dog is entering and becoming stuck in his Defense Drive, and needs help which encompasses more than the home alone woes.