Many dog owners feel comfortable leaving the pup at home while away at work. And while youâ€™re away, your pup might find occasion to romp around the house or play with their toys (squeaking that squeaker while youâ€™re away). Some might simply laze around, simply eager to get you back home so you can play with them.
But have you ever been separated from your pup for a long time? Perhaps youâ€™ve promised your hometown a long visit to ensure its safety and to reunite with family, or maybe youâ€™ve been in the hospital for a long period of time. There are even those whose dog was lost but found, and a reunion is set to happen. Regardless of the reason, seeing your pup again is a great experience for the both of you.
And while you both may be excited to see each other, things at home might be a little different now. Consider the fact that youâ€™ve been separated for a long period. During this time, itâ€™s easy to develop new habits and behaviors, even for a dog.
Different behaviors and habits
Initially, a dog may want to do things differently. They have likely been accustomed to a different schedule and perhaps a different number of people in their home. Donâ€™t be startled if your dog is occasionally surprised by your presence. They may even mistake you for a stranger at times (standing in the shadows or dim area) and let out barks.
The best thing to do is spend time with your pup. Take turns feeding them, walking them, and playing with them. Upon your return home, itâ€™s likely your dog is going to want to do all of these things anyway, but may still want to engage with those that took care of them while you were away. Itâ€™s important to understand that just because youâ€™ve returned, it doesnâ€™t mean your dog is going to go right back to feeling comfortable with you all the time.
This normally means that their habits wonâ€™t be the same as when you left. They may want to play at certain times or even need to do their daily business differently or in a new place. They may have even learned a few new tricks while you were away (ringing a bell to alert that they need to go out). Spend time with your dog and their caretakers together, so that you can catch up on any changes in your dog. This will help you adjust to caring for your dog so that your arrival wonâ€™t surprise him, but rather make him more comfortable in your presence.
Post-return and a little anxiety
Then there are situations where the dog knows what happened the last time you left. They know that you didnâ€™t come back for a long time and this time might not be any different. Unfortunately, this can quickly develop into separation anxiety. Theyâ€™ll want to follow you around everywhere and be with you. This can result in either destructive issues such as chewing on the rug or scratching on the door. But many times, it results in howling, depression, and just being downright sad or even scared because you might not be coming back for a long time again.
Dealing with post-return separation anxiety can be tough, but not impossible. While you may want to spend a lot of time with your dog now that youâ€™re back, itâ€™s going to be important that they be able to let go of you when you need to leave, without endangering their health or your home. Remember that this is likely a new habit developed, so you donâ€™t want to let it endure or develop into something that is harder to break.
In most cases, desensitizing them to your leaving is the simplest practice. Start by walking out the door and waiting a few minutes. Then return- but try a different door (garage door to front door). The idea is that youâ€™re changing position and breaking your dogâ€™s habit of waiting by the door for you to return because they donâ€™t know where or when youâ€™ll be arriving. Do this in longer increments until your dog begins to comprehend that you might leave right now, but youâ€™ll be back soon enough.
There are times when owner and dog will be separated for long periods of time. But as long as you understand how your dog needs to cope with the situation, you can ensure that the experience is the best thing that has happened since you invited them into your home.
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