I would like to make one addition to using a crate for your anxious pup while you are gone. I recommend not putting any stuffed toys or blankets in the crate with your dog. They can easily tear these items up and ingest them. Ingesting these materials can cause obstructions that can be very dangerous (even fatal) and could require costly surgery to remove. Please don't feel mean! It is for your dog's safety. Just think it is like lying on a hardwood floor to keep cool in the summer. They will be perfectly fine and most importantly, safe.
Another very important technique to overcome anxiety is to ignore your dog when you leave and ignore them when you come home. This is the hardest thing to do. You want to comfort them and tell them it will all be okay, but this will not help them feel comfort in the slightest. Dogs feed off of our emotions. If they sense you are making a big deal out of coming and going, they will think it is a big deal. They will worry that something bad is happening because Mom or Dad is acting anxious when they leave or too excited when they get home. Ignoring snuggles at the door is even harder than ignoring them when you leave, but it will help.
In addition to ignoring your pup when you come and go, another useful technique is to go through your morning routine, but then don’t leave! Dogs are so very smart. I swear Cooper gives me “the look” every time I put on my work uniform. He knows that means I am leaving. Your dog is the same! If you go through your morning routine and stay home, your dog will see that something bad doesn’t always follow your morning routine. Also, you could do short trips out following your routine, such as running down to the gas station. It will help desensitize them to your leaving. But don’t forget to ignore them!
Another little technique to help anxiety is to teach your pup some tricks. I had a friend suggest this to me once for Coop and it actually helped quite a bit! My friend told me that exercising his mind would help him overcome his anxiety. Dogs are smart and like learning new things. Using their noggin will help keep them from feeling bored. And I am not talking about crazy tricks here. Just do the simple ones. Coop learned how to shake with both paws, lay down, and stay. These are definitely the basics, but they helped him feel better. He loved when I praised him and gave him hugs for doing his new tricks correctly. Learning these few things really seemed to help. Plus it was a fun thing for us to do together!
My last piece of advice for a dog with anxiety is exercise! Just taking your dog on a simple walk around the block will do wonders. Not only is it physical exercise, but it is also a mental exercise. All of the new smells and sights will get their mind working and help to wear them out. Does your dog like to fetch? Grab that tennis ball and wear their little booty out! A worn out dog is much too tired to worry!
I certainly hope these tips and techniques help you with your pup! If you have any other ideas, please feel free to share them!
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