Should you say goodbye to your dog when you leave?

Our pets are part of our family. They love being around us and crave our attention. This connection means when we’re not around, our dogs miss us. This can create separation anxiety for the pup and behavior concerns for us. The answer for this problem, like most behavior questions, is found in your dog’s personality.

There are different schools of thought on whether we should prepare our dog to be left at home alone or if we shouldn’t make a big deal of our leaving. To determine what might work best in your situation, there are a few important considerations. 

Breed can impact how nervous a dog gets when you leave. Some breeds are simply calmer while some are more prone to anxiety. Training them as a puppy will help with long-term adjustment. To do this, it’s best to build up the time you leave them alone slowly. This allows them to become accustomed to both your absence and your eventual return. 

Older dogs may have habits already in place that bring on anxiety when you’re not there. It’s possible, however, to help them through this time. Consider a return to a gradual process of helping them adjust, leaving them alone for brief times at first, then lengthening your absence. 

Saying goodbye can, for some dogs, be a good ritual that calms them before you leave. Speaking in a soothing voice or simply petting them can leave them in a calmer state. This shouldn’t be the only time you do this, however, so they don’t use it as a trigger to begin to worry that you’re leaving. Dog trainers do caution against using the word “goodbye” as that can become a trigger for pups with severe separation anxiety.

A charity in the UK involved in rehoming animals urges pet owners to create a “home alone box”.  Include some toys and treats in the box, then bring it out when you’re getting ready to leave. Once you’re back, put the toys away. That way your dog learns to look forward to this special box, leaving them with less stress over your absence.

Solving the issue of separation anxiety is an individual process. Consult with your vet, then take the time to learn what soothes your dog and what may be the best solution for them.

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