Table of Contents
Why does this happen?
We don’t know why some dogs suffer from this and others don’t. The destruction and house soiling are not the dog’s attempt to punish or seek revenge on his owner for leaving him alone, but are actually part of a panic response.
Sometimes home-alone issues occur.
There is a After a traumatic event, such as a period of time spent at a shelter, when a dog has never or rarely been left alone in the past.
How do you know?
If most, or all, of the following statements are true about your dog, he may have a home-alone problem.
There is a He behaves only when he is left alone. He follows you from room to room. He is well-behaved when you are with him. He displays frantic greeting behaviors. He behaves whenever he is left alone for a short or long period of time. When you are ready to leave the house, he tries to leave with you. He doesn’t like spending time outdoors by himself.
What can you do?
Arrival and departures should be kept low-key. If you ignore your dog for the first few minutes, then calmly pet him, then leave him with something that has your scent on it, such as a t-shirt. The value of the safety cue will be lost if you leave for a period of time longer than he can tolerate.
When you don’t want to leave the house, practice this exercise using positive reinforcement.
Get him to love going to his place. If you have a place where your dog can relax, use it. It’s a good idea to find a spot where he can see you return. Do not associate the practice of down stay with your departure. At the end of the stay, don’t call your dog to you. If he remains calm, you will always come back to him. While your dog remains in the down stay position, your goal is to be able to move briefly out of his sight. The goal is to teach him that he can stay in one place while you go somewhere else. You can do this as you progress. If you are watching television with your dog by your side and you get up for a snack, tell him to stay and leave the room. Give him a treat when you come back, or praise him for staying there.
During practice departures, teach your dog to remain calm.
• Engage in your departure activities (betting your keys, putting on your coat,) then sit back down. Repeat this step until your dog shows no distress in response to your activities and leave a treat in his “place” so if he chooses to go there, he will get a reward.• Next, go to the door and open it, then close it and sit back down. Do not make a fuss of your dog. Say “good boy” if he remains where he is or goes to his place.• Next, step outside the door, leaving the door open, then immediately return.• Finally, step outside, close the door, and then immediately return. Slowly get your dog accustomed to being alone with the door closed between you for several seconds.• Proceed very gradually repeating each step until your dog shows no signs of distress. If at any time in this process your actions produce an anxiety response in your dog, you’ve proceeded too fast. Return to an earlier step in the process and practice this step until the dog shows no distress response, then proceed to the next step.• When your dog is tolerating your being on the other side of the door for several seconds, begin short-duration absences. This step involves giving the dog a verbal cue (for example, “I’ll be back,”) leaving and then returning within a minute. Your return must be low-key: either ignore your dog or greet him quietly and calmly. If he shows no signs of distress, repeat the exercise. If he appears anxious, wait until he relaxes to repeat the exercise. Gradually increase the length of time you’re gone.• Practice as many absences as possible that last less than ten minutes. You can do many departures within one session if your dog relaxes sufficiently between departures. Scatter practice departures and short-duration absences throughout the day.• Once your dog can handle short absences (30 to 60 minutes,) he’ll usually be able to handle longer intervals alone and you won’t have to work up to all-day absences minute-by-minute. The hard part is at the beginning, but the job gets easier as you go along. How long it takes to condition your dog to being alone depends on the severity of his problem.