I love my dog to a degree that is probably unhealthy and definitely obsessive. She's my companion, my lap warmer, and my biggest source of entertainment. I work from home, so most days we just hang out together, living our best lives, not wearing any pants, but sometimes I am forced outside, away from my pooch. It's not easy on either of us, but I try to make it as painless as possible. In my desire to ease the transition, I've learned how to let my dog know I'm coming back when I say goodbye.
Separation anxiety for dogs is a real thing. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals (ASPCA) noted that it can cause the dog to act erratically, become destructive, or even exhibit self-harming behaviors. They become anxious or depressed, and it becomes a problem. Saying goodbye to your dog can be fraught if your puppy has separation anxiety. It's crucial that owners are able to communicate with your dogs that you are coming back, and that it's not going to be forever. It seems an impossible task when you consider that a dog's memory seems as though it's about as long as a toddler's, but it is possible.
1. Start Early & Start Slowly
When my dog was a puppy, we crate trained her to be alone for several hours at a time. This makes her crate a place of refuge where she genuinely loves spending her time. It is her safe space. We call it her "cave of safety." The experts at Specialty Dog Training wrote that crate training changes the dynamic of your dog's time. Dogs who learn that their crate is a safe space, a bed to lie on, and a shelter, generally feel calmer when they have that place to go to.
2. Make Sure They Have Their Favorites
My husband has trained all of our dogs, as well as police canines, and one thing he swears by is keeping dogs with their favorite toys or comfort objects. If you're boarding your dog, or having a friend care for them, make sure that they have their own bowls, their own toys, and the food and treats that they eat at home. This keeps their routine and decreases their anxiety.
3. Quick & Clean
Just like when you drop your toddler off at day care, when you leave your very best good boy, do it fast. No long scritches and belly rubs. You have to ghost, according to Pet Guide. Otherwise, you're just setting your dog up for confusion. You've already provided them with everything they need, now you have to go.
4. Consider Doggy Day Care
Getting ready to board your dog for a long period of time? You might want to consider warming them to the idea in increments. A good way to do this is by letting them spend a week or more in a doggie day care service. They learn that this time will be fun and exciting, but that you always come back. It helps your dog learn social behaviors while also teaching them that they don't need to be tied to you all the time.
5. Don't Make It A One-Time Thing
Just like you can't clip your dog's nails once in a great while, or bathe them once in a blue moon if you want them to get used to it and not react badly, you need to socialize them, and leave them in the care of others with some regularity. If they know that it is just a thing that happens, they'll be ready for it. My dog actually gets excited when she sees my sister's house in the window. She knows my sister will spoil her rotten and she'll get to play with my niece pupper all the time.