Going into the office each day, or work from home and want to have some peace and quiet whilst working? We advise that ALL adopters teach their dog to cope alone, even for half an hour if you need it. A dog cannot have someone around 24/7 – it is important that you prepare the dog to be alone even for 5 minutes whilst you are at the shops.
Departures and Arrivals
Make going away and coming home less dramatic. Matter of factly leave the house. Return the same way. Try to be unemotional. What sort of pre-cues do you give the dog that tell it you are getting ready to leave? Putting on your jacket, grabbing your cap, the sound of your car keys and getting your briefcase or purse are all cues to the dog. Go through the motions, then don't leave. Repeat until the dog no longer finds this distressing.
When you really do leave, ignore the dog for at least 15 minutes before you go. Upon your arrival, greet the dog after you have hung up your jacket and put your things away, wait for the dog to be in a calm and relaxed state.
Teach Appropriate Behaviour
Set up training sessions where you separate yourself from the dog. Use 2 rooms to separate yourself from the dog and use the door as a divider. If your home is open plan you can use a baby gate in a doorway between two rooms with you on one side and the dog on the other– however, be aware that most Rommies can scale baby gates with ease. Start of very minimal – this way you are setting the dog up to succeed. Even 5-10 seconds is a great place to start – you need to gradually increase each time but do not rush this as you can put too much pressure on the dog if you jump from 10 seconds to 10 minutes. After a few quiet seconds/minutes, open the door or remove the baby gate without any fanfare and let the dog in the room with you again. If the dog was noisy while you were temporarily separated, you must wait until there is a quiet moment before you let the dog out. You don't want the dog to learn that noisy behaviour will be rewarded with your presence. Gradually increase the distance you stand or sit from the door/gate and the time you spend separated. Do this in short time increments at first.
Change the Picture
What if you could actually make a dog look forward to you leaving! Start by buying a special toy (Buster Cube, Kong), or a hollow bone that you can fill with treats. Teach the dog to really want it. Let it watch you fuss over and fill the toy. Place the toy on the other side of a door/baby gate or locked inside the dog's crate where it can't get to it. Pretend to get ready to leave the house. Go back to the toy and fuss over it again, making sure the dog can't get it. Next, put the dog behind the baby gate/door, or into the crate, where the toy is. Go sit down for a few minutes. Return while the dog is still interacting with the toy/bone and let the dog out. Once the dog has moved away from the special toy/bone pick it up so that your dog does not have unlimited access to it - remember we want this to be a special treat that they only get when they are alone. If your dog does not want to walk away from the toy or tries to bring it with them then you can swap it by throwing a couple of treats on the floor so that they have to walk away from/drop what they have to eat them and pick the toy/bone up once they have moved away to the treats. Do not praise the dog. You don't get rewarded for coming out, you get rewarded for staying alone on the other side of the baby gate or crate.
If your dog is beginning to recognise that the Kong/bone is an indicator to you leaving the property and displays anxiety mix the routine up, you can also give it at other times during the day to break the sole association. If your dog is perfectly happy with the Kong when left, continue.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
A good dog is a tired dog. It is impossible for the dog to get into trouble when it's sleeping! Dogs need lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation. Try to tire the dog by playing ball or another game before you leave. To keep the dog's mind busy so they are not just sat thinking about the fact they’re alone. Leave a treat-filled toy or kong, a pig’s ear or Buster Cube for the dog to play with. It is good for them to have alone time be rewarding.
When it comes to dogs, there is always more to learn! Do some research online and if you get stuck, contact us and we will do our best to help you.