The Dog Days of Summer: Back to School Separation Part II

Megan here now! And again, Super Smiley, you did a Pawsome job in last week’s blog about what dogs need to feel OK when they are left alone. Good Boy!

  • Smiley’s right that exercise and rotating toys may do the trick, but do you see your dog as “thinking too much” so he may need something more? Dogs are natural foragers and explorers, so give him something to forge! Enhance his environment with a foraging game by hiding treats around for him to look for and discover.
  • Does your dog seem restless and not “settle” when you leave? Create an enriched environment for your dog. Give him several choices of beds and rest spots in different shady areas including a crate with the door left open with his blanket inside which can become his “safe rest condo.” Since dogs also like to be higher off the ground, if they are outside you can add a lawn chaise lounge and low table especially for him. Does your dog sometimes choose to rest in your chair and not in the spots you have created for him? Rub one of your worn T-shirts on the spots you choose for him and sit there for a little while to leave your scent. Then make it even more attractive to him by spraying it with Calming Spray.
  • Is your dog digging up the yard? In the shade, create a dedicated digging spot like a “sand box” for him. Excavate a pit about two feet longer and wider that his body length and about a foot deep and fill it with sand. Edge it with garden trim logs so it looks like a specific area. Do you think your dog might dig everyplace else but in his new sand pit? Bury a toy for him to find and he will get the idea that this is the most fun digging area in the world!

Smiley touched on training, which is really the platform for your entire relationship with your dog. He needs to have structure, not just so he behaves the way you want him to, but so he feels safe and secure. If he’s trained to know he has fun activities to do while alone and the family will be back later, then he knows it’s all OK. He will play with what he’s supposed to play with, nap in his personal spots, and all will be well.

  • As for Training, make sure you have a solid structure in place for your dog, so he feels confident about his environment and his role there. Simple things like asking him to sit before he gets his food, having his regular sleeping place be in your bedroom (like in a dog den), and making him wait for permission before he bolts in and out of the back door can instill a strong sense of structure in his mind and make him feel more confident even when you aren’t home. Do you sometimes feel it’s hard to get his attention when he wants to go outside and you are trying to keep him from bolting?  Treats like Sentry Pur Luv Grande Bones Peanut Butter can get his attention and make great rewards for that sit – stay.
  • Take Your Dog to School! Enroll him in a group training class with the whole family. It’s great family fun, everyone will be on the same page, and your dog will get stimulation, training, bonding time and socialization. Wow! A lot of reward in a short amount of time! These classes can often be found through your community center or at some of the large pet stores.
  • As a CCPDT-KA certified dog trainer, I think it’s a great idea to have a private dog training session at your house, even if it’s only once to evaluate your home and structure as your dog sees it. Your trainer can then give you some pointers to specifically address your concerns. To find a good trainer in your area start by getting referrals from your veterinarian, groomer and people at the local dog park. A CCPDT-certified trainer has passed a high level of criteria and trains with positive actions rather than using adverse techniques. Call prospective trainers first to get a feel for them and ask if they specialize in your particular issue, what their credentials are, if they use adverse techniques and if they will come for a one time evaluation and training.
  • Skip the long heartfelt goodbyes. These transmit to your dog that something is wrong. Just say in a confident voice, “Good Dog, You Wait.” Then leave. Does he still seem anxious when you leave? Try a Calming Collar with pheromones mimic the calming pheromones that can help your dog relax.
  • Does your dog jump all over you when you come home? Use the same  low-key strategy when returning that you used when you left. Don’t hug him right away or let him jump all over you celebrating your long at last return. Actually ignore him for a minute. The moment he stops jumping or when you see he realizes you aren’t reacting to this, ask him to sit and give him a Breath Treat! Now you can have your celebration play or walk time and freshen his breath!

For Super Smiley and me, we personally think it’s best to have two dogs if leaving them alone is part of your routine. This way there is always “a pack” around. A pack could even consist of a dog and a cat. Even though cats aren’t pack animals, she can still provide great companionship for your dog. But whether you have one pet or three, we hope these tips help as we head out of the Dog Days of Summer and into Fall towards Holiday Season!

Until Next Time, Woof and Super Smiles from Super Smiley and Megan Blake, The Pet Lifestyle Coach®





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