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Monday, July 29, 2013

For Dogs Who Don't Want Us To Leave

Note: Separation Anxiety can be a serious condition that might require the skills of a behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist. If your dog panics when  you leave him or her alone, seek the advice of a competent professional now.

Below are a few things that have helped my dogs feel a little bit better about being left alone.  These tips might not work for every dog.

Shut Up
The less talking I do as I leave the house, the calmer my dogs seem.  So now I try to not say anything as I leave. If I need the dogs to do something, I use hand signals - such as pointing to a crate.

Let Them See You Leave
If you crate your dogs when you leave, consider putting the crate in a location that allows the dogs to see you leave.  Many will crate their dog in the bedroom. But the dog might be in the back of the house wondering what is going on in the front of the house.
Note.  This might not always work well - especially if the crate is moved to a noisier location (such as a place where street noise can be heard

Speaking of Doors
One of my dogs did well with a creation of a "safe door" protocol.  My house had two doors, I made sure that each of those doors meant something specific. The side door (went to a carport) meant that I was getting in my car and leaving for several hours. The front door meant that I was coming right back (i.e. checking the mail)
Dogs love predictability.

Don't Give The Dogs A Job
Yes, you read that correctly.  Although dogs love to work for us, we have to be careful about what type of job we give them when we leave the house.  Example - leaving the blinds open and expecting our dogs to patrol.   Some dogs will happily do this for us. But patrolling for 8 to 12 hours a day can be stressful. And stress isn't going to help a dog feel better about being alone.

Create Calm Before Leaving
Exercise is great for many reasons. And getting a dog excercised before we leave is ideal. But don't jog the dog for 5 miles, toss him/her in the house, then take off for 11 hours.  Try to spend at least an hour with your dog doing something relaxing: gentle petting or massage, meditation,  deep breathing, relaxation protocol, or just being there with your dog while you watch TV or read.

Time Management
Try to give yourself plenty of time to prepare for leaving - so you aren't rushing about.  Moving about quickly through the house will get some dogs worked up and anxious. 

Additional Reading
Separation Anxiety
Hiring a Professional


  1. Great post, thank you.

    What if it's me that has separation anxiety when I leave?


  2. Great question, Geoff. Thanks for asking.
    Please see:

  3. Is it ok to get excited when I see the dogs after coming home?

    Thank you,

    1. Another great question. Sad goodbyes and happy, giddy hellos can increase or cause separation anxiety. Stay breezy :)

      More details here: