Your dog may not have been on their own for months. How do you go about getting them used to solitude?
Make a plan
Start preparing now – it’ll make things MUCH easier.
Choose an area your dog will feel safe and comfortable. Keep their bed here plus a bowl of fresh, clean water. If you can, get a safety gate fitted so you can leave the room and your dog can still see you. Another option would be to use your dog’s crate.
Provide toys and a long-lasting treat to keep your dog mentally stimulated.
Close the gate
Close the gate casually and calmly. Keep it closed for 10 seconds, and stay in your dog’s sight.
Next, open the gate, but do this calmly too, so your dog doesn’t think anything strange is happening. Practise closing the gate more often, and gradually increase the amount of time it stays closed for.
Go where your dog can’t see you
Once you can keep the gate closed for over a minute and your dog is comfortable, try to go somewhere they can’t see you.
Go in to the next room, just for a few seconds, and then come back. Keep practising this, and build up the amount of time gradually. If your dog is unhappy with this, be patient with them. Try going back a step and continuing to get them used to being alone where they can see you.
Go where your dog can’t hear you
Once your dog is okay with this, it’s time to practise leaving the house. That way, your dog won’t be able to see or hear you. Leave casually, remembering to provide your dog with toys and a treat, and only do so for a short while.
Work on increasing the amount of time your dog spends alone in the house. First, just step outside. Then move on to short, 5-minute periods, etc etc. Before long, you’ll be able to run errands without your dog minding, and not long after that you’ll be able to comfortably head off to work. Just remember: be patient, and don’t force your dog into a situation that makes them uncomfortable.
If your dog suffered from separation anxiety prior to lockdown, don’t hesitate to contact us for more advice on easing their anxiety. If this is a recurring and debilitating issue for your pet, owners should get in touch with a qualified dog behaviourist.