Post COVID re-boot: Part 2 – Leaving Fido Home

Does your dog want to leave with you when you exit the house to run errands?  Is she digging at the doors and barking hysterically when you leave her home alone?  Well, if you’ve been working from home for the last year, your dog needs to learn, or re-learn, how to cope with being alone.  Dogs are social animals and want to be with the rest of the family.  They don’t understand why they can‘t be with you ALL OF THE TIME.

Try these steps:

Give your dog a treat, walk out the door, get in our car and sit there for five minutes.  (If you have family members, everyone needs to vacate the premises.) Walk back in the house, have your dog sit for you and give her a treat (or a belly rub if she’s not food-motivated).  If she’s jumping on you and over-reacting to your return, ignore these behaviors, walk past her and wait for her to settle before greeting her and giving her a reward.

If she has a favorite toy, leave it with her.  Read the label on new toys as not all are safe to leave for un-supervised use.

Repeat this multiple times during the day for 3-4 days in a row.  

Next, extend the length of your absence by driving your car away from home and returning 5-10 minutes later.  Follow the same greeting process.   Again, do this multiple times during the day for 3-4 days in a row.

Repeat this process when you go to the grocery store, doctor’s visit, picking up the kids at school (yay!!) and any other errands shorter in length than 2-3 hours.  Work your way up to a longer period of time away. 

Always reward your dog when you return – when she’s calm.  She will learn that it’s OK when you leave because you always return and are happy to see her.

Should she have accidents in the house, or chew a pillow or remote control while you’re gone, never scold her for this when you return from being away.  She’ll learn that when you come home you yell, and she will fear your return home. (This is what‘s really happening when a dog “looks guilty” when you walk in and realize she’s pooped in the house; you’re not seeing guilt, but your dog’s fear – of YOU.).  Be the smarter animal and take out of reach any items you don’t want damaged or destroyed.

Yes, this will take a while for your dog to develop a new habit of self-settling and entertaining herself when you’re not home.   

If your dog likes other dogs, consider doggie daycare to keep her mentally, physically and socially engaged during your daily absences. 

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