Slowly Introduce Increased Alone Time
This can be difficult for dogs, particularly if you have been working remotely. The best strategy is to leave the house for about fifteen to twenty minutes randomly.
You need to get your dog comfortable with the concept that you will frequently be leaving and returning, and it’s okay because every time you leave, you will return.
Before you leave for an extended period of time, introduce alone time in small, random bursts. You should close the door whenever you use the bathroom.
Dogs feel most vulnerable when they use the bathroom and will look for their owners when they do so.
Most people confuse this with their dog feeling awkward that you’re watching them use the bathroom, but the truth is your dog is expecting you to watch their back while they make waste.
Fortunately, humans today don’t have to worry about predators attacking them while they use the bathroom, so it’s important to close the door to teach your dog they don’t have to worry about you when you use the bathroom.
When you take out the garbage and recycling, stand outside for five to ten minutes so your dog gets comfortable with you being away for random durations of time.
Likewise, if you are still working remotely, be sure to keep your dog out of the room you work for at least an hour, if not two, each working day.
These are three simple steps to take to slowly introduce increased alone time.
Don’t Cave to Dog’s Whines and Cries During Alone Time
No one wants to hear their dog whine and cry, and it may even hurt you to have to deal with your dog in distress.
The most important thing to do is not cave, that’s exactly what your dog is trying to get you to do.
You’re the owner, and you know your dog is fine, they think they’re in distress, but they’re not.
You’re breaking the dog’s conditioning, don’t let them condition you.
Force the dog to stay alone until the negative behavior has stopped, as you don’t want to reinforce whining, crying, and getting their way.
Once the dog has relaxed, you can reinforce positive behavior by praising them in a composed tone and soft pets.
Wear Your Dog Out Before Leaving
A worn-out dog from runs walks, and plays is a happy dog.
Make sure you burn off plenty of energy before you leave the house, this will eliminate any potential nervous energy.
When you spend time and exercise your dog before you leave, not only does this use up energy, but it reinforces the secure attachment with them and they’ll feel loved and appreciated.
Instead of stressing and waiting for you to return, your dog will most likely just sleep while waiting for you to return home.
Do Not Make A Scene When You Leave or Come Back
A big mistake people make is making a scene they have to leave and when they return. Your dog feeds off your energy, so if you make a big deal of leaving, this will actually increase their separation anxiety.
Instead, make leaving and returning a normal event, that way, your dog won’t be on high alert when you do so.
Keeping calm when you leave makes it feel like routine, and dogs love their routine as their creatures of habit.
Be sure to show your dog plenty of love when you return, but do so calmly. Come home, take off your shoes, hang up your keys, and then greet your dog in a calm tone, giving them plenty of attention and pets.
This will prevent an emotional spike and help reinforce the idea that you, the owner, will be coming and going as you please.
Supply Distractions for Your Dog When You Leave
Leave some stimulation for your dog. A puzzle toy, chew toy, or simply a few of their favorite toys will assist in the distraction of you not being around.
If your dog has a favorite bone, leave it in its comfort corner next to one of your articles of clothing. Dogs feel safer when they can smell their owner, so leaving the shirt you wore to bed next to their bed or blanket is an easy way to keep your dog calm when you’re gone.
Additionally, give them a chew toy that they most likely won’t finish by the time you return, this way, they will stay occupied working on their chew toy and not your shoes or furniture.
Furthermore, be sure to give your dog treats when you leave, but never when you return. Your dog will look forward to you leaving when you give them treats as you walk out the door, but giving them treats when you return will only reinforce separation anxiety and make them anxious for you to return.