Whenever I leave the house, it seems my dog knows 10 minutes before I ever approach the door.
This is a common problem in pet parents dealing with dog separation anxiety... It's also a big opportunity.
Dogs are pretty smart and just like people they recognize patterns. Putting on makeup, getting dressed, doing your hair, and grabbing your purse are all signs you're about to leave the house. The longer it takes to get ready the longer you'll be out!
Luckily we can use our dog's intelligence to our advantage.
These "going away signals" as many call them, can be very useful in desensitizing your dog to your absence.
The steps you take to head out for the day become triggers that start the vicious cycle of anxiety in your pup. Once anxiety begins, it's very difficult to calm your pup (without giving up on your plans).
To downplay these absence triggers, change up your routine and try to make these activities feel normal. Any of the following could make up part of your going away routine:
- Putting on makeup
- Putting on shoes
- Unlocking the door
- Putting on your coat
- Picking up your keys from your purse or key hook
- Putting your wallet in your pocket
- Speaking to your dog in that, "Be a good boy, I'll be back in just a minute," voice
To begin desensitizing your dog to these triggers you could put your shoes on, and then just sit to watch TV with your pup. You could even put your purse on your shoulder while you watch a little Cesar 911.
You might also pick up your keys and hold them while you do a few household chores. Some people put on their coat and then delay leaving for up to 15 minutes.
Another absence trigger is putting on makeup, so why not put on the mask during a lazy Saturday at home too? It's a little extra work which could pay off in the future.
While practicing this technique it's important to remember energy is everything. These activities need to feel normal, so don't hype up your dog while you're doing them. Be patient and remain calm. If you see the anxiety start to build in your pup, simply turn down your own energy and be the example of perfect chill.
Many pet parents find this technique to work well for their dogs. If this helps reduce your pup's anxiety, please let us know! After all 40% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety, so we've got to share what we know.
Our Dog Anxiety Relief Soft Chews help reduce your pup's tension and stress while exploring desensitization techniques. While you practice changing going away triggers, stress will inevitably build. Give your pup their daily dose of calming chews a few minutes before you begin the process to help them feel calm and secure throughout your training exercise!