For many pets that are closely bonded to their owners, being alone can be traumatic and result in some difficult behaviour. While the solution is not always simple, there are some basic things you can do to help your dog cope with alone-time.
Dogs who bark, house soil, are destructive and show anxious behavior before you leave are often sufferers from separation anxiety. Some may not show obvious signs, but may perhaps have accidents inside the house when they are otherwise well trained. Obsessive chewers are often trying to cope with their problems in a different way. Those dogs that are driving your neighbors mad by barking all day, may actually be suffering from distress and separation anxiety.
It is thought that there may be a genetic basis for separation anxiety, so unfortunately some dogs will develop separation anxiety despite being otherwise well trained and socialized. Dogs that are hyper-attached to their owners and rarely left alone can suffer badly if they have never been taught to be alone.
Simply put, dogs are a sociable beast. They are not really built to be alone all day while you work. They tend to naturally live in groups so the way our modern dog usually lives is fairly unusual. If your dog starts to whine, follow you around and perhaps pace when you show signs of needing to leave the house, your dog may be anxious about you leaving. If you come back to accidents in the house and all your treasured possessions being chewed, you may have a dog with separation anxiety. If your neighbors tell you your dog whines, barks and howls while you are gone, this can be a sign of anxiety. While you are working on getting your dog more comfortable with being alone, it is important to not trigger his anxiety. There are a few options you could try. A dog sitter – ask a family member or neighbour to come sit with your dog. Take your dog with you to work – wouldn’t we all love to do this, it would be great for the workplace morale! Take your dog to doggy daycare.
Arrange a playdate. That doggy friend at the local park may love for your dog to hang out together for the day. Consider fostering another dog (a great way to see if a second dog helps the situation).