Have you ever come home from a hard day's work to find your couch cushion completely destroyed? You're not alone. Many dogs experience "separation distress," or the inability to adapt to stress or conditions causing stress. While this is a worrisome issue for dog owners, animal behaviorist Mary Burch offers tips for leaving your dog at home alone. American Kennel Club
Start slowly. Start out leaving your pup home alone for a very short time and see how he reacts. The biggest mistake dog owners make is leaving for an entire day of work for the dog's first time alone.
Systematic training. If your dog starts to act destructive, bark loudly or relieve himself as soon as you walk out the door, try training him in a systematic way. Decide on a phrase you'll use when telling your dog that you are leaving the house. Walk out and then immediately open the door and come back in. If your pooch gets excited and begins jumping on you, don't pet or reward him. Wait until he's calm and then praise him.
Repeat your phrase for leaving the house, and this time when you walk out and close the door, wait a couple of seconds before returning. Add a few seconds each time.
A bored dog. Another tool is to provide toys so your pup does not get bored. Make sure that the toys you provide are not items that can be chewed up and cause choking or intestinal problems if accidentally ingested. There are also toys that you can put a treat such as peanut butter in — these will keep your dog busy while she works on getting the reward from the toy.
Take care of physical needs. It is very important to take your dog out to relieve himself and to provide clean, fresh water before you leave him alone for an extended period of time. Also, give your pup a chance to exercise. Taking your dog for a short walk or playing with him before you go to work will go a long way toward having a relaxed dog alone in the house.
Additional tips can be found on the American Kennel Club website at www.akc.org.