Too Hard to Say Goodbye?

photoSaying goodbye doesn’t always mean forever.  Unfortunately for some pups, this is exactly what they think when you make a break for the door. Separation anxiety is often annoying, but it is actually not good for your pup. They feel fear of abandonment, stress, which often results in depression or even destructive behavior. Keep in mind that some of these characteristics may also be the result of incomplete house-training, so be sure you address the two separately.

Hard to say goodbye?

Signs of separation anxiety are not all destructive. Sometimes, pups can become depressed, leading to excessive eating, or not eating at all. Finding your pup waiting for you at the door, whimpering and trying to either go with you or prevent you from leaving, are almost dead giveaways. These  behaviors will often be noticed as soon as you pick up your keys, or any other ritual you partake in before you leave the house. One of the most common signs is the eagerness to pounce on you when you get home. Dogs love you, and often can’t wait till you are back in their company, so don’t always assume that your pup is actually suffering from anxiety problems if this happens.

On the destructive side, urination and marking are not necessarily signs of separation anxiety. These may be more related to mischief, improper house-breaking, or even possible urinary problems or diseases. Eliminate these probabilities before you assume that your pup is having separation anxiety. Further destruction of your home is more common when it comes to things that smell like you. Couch cushions, remote controls, kids toys, or even your slippers, are primary targets for chewing when a pup is having problems with you leaving.

Making goodbye easy for your pup

Once you’ve decided that your pup is likely having trouble with goodbye, it’s time to teach them that you’ll always be back. Dogs are creatures of habit and can easily tell that you are going to leave by studying your actions. Here is where to start. Each day, as you go through your normal duties, do things that you would normally do before you leave, such as grab your coat and keys, but don’t actually leave. These are the most audible and visible giveaways that you are going to say goodbye, so you break this habit. You can also try walking out the door for a few minutes, then returning quickly, so that your pup will begin to understand you are always coming back.

Breaking them of the dreaded pounce tactic can sometimes take a bit more training. When you first get home, you find that old Blue has tried to tackle you yet again. The best thing you can do is acknowledge them with a greeting, and then ignore them until they settle down. It may seem a bit rude, but if the pouncing gets them attention, they will continue it.

You may consider investing in a large cage or crate with enough room for them to move around in. Place it in a familiar room so that they will feel safe. Here, you make a sanctuary for them when you are getting ready to leave. Associate the area with treats, toys, and make the time special for them. Go through a fun ritual before you say goodbye, so that your pup will enjoy the time, and may even begin to look forward to it.

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