Hey Mofo Friends!
Why is my dog tearing up the house when I go out?
Two words: Separation anxiety. Boy, do I have a few things to say on this topic. So much, in fact, that this is the first of a three-part blog series devoted to exploring what it happens and what can be done about it.
No one magic pill or food puzzle is going to fix separation anxiety in your dog. It’s your job to find what works for your dog, but I’m here (as always!) to help, and today I’ll share my top suggestions.
Make sure you are calm and your dog is exhausted before you leave! This the first thing I recommend to clients with this issue, and today I’ll offer my top recommendations and tips on how to get there.
- Physical Exercise!
Exercise is super important. A tired dog is a good dog! This is not just an old saying it is the absolute truth. More exercise is always my first go-to when discussing separation anxiety with my clients.
Playing fetch, tug, swimming, or running around the backyard are excellent forms of exercise, but nothing compares to walking to your dog, so…
- Walk your damn dog!
Walking will solve a ton of behavior issues! Yes, of course, let your dog have some time to smell the flowers, but the majority of your walk should be the formal walk right by your side. In a perfect world, they are walking next to you and periodically looking at you for direction. This walk shows leadership. It also becomes a mental and physical exercise.
The formal walk provides mental stimulation, a need often not met for our dogs. Dogs may be mofos, but they are really smart, and using their brain helps to tire them out (I’ll talk more about mental stimulation in Part 3 of this series).
- Keep leaving time calm!
It’s important to pay attention to the amount of stimulation you give your dog just before you leave. Don't get them super amped up and then leave them to deal with the excited energy on their own. That’s just plain uncool. Your dog can’t turn on the treadmill and take themselves for a run. It’s on you to make time to help them burn it off.
- Make TIME!
For a lot of pet-parents, mornings are tough. Make a priority of waking up early to spend that quality time walking your dog! You’ve made a commitment to care for your dog – showing up for them is not optional.
- Crate Train!
I am a big believer in the crate. It keeps both your dog and your furniture safe.
- Make the crate as positive as possible.
- Feed them in the crate.
- Leave tasty treats and a frozen Kong filled with canned dog food.
- Leave on relaxing music to drown out outside noise (for example, in these situations I play a lot of Johnny Cash, zero Wu-Tang.)
- Use physical exercise, mental stimulation, and the power of the crate to your advantage.
- Make time to walk your dog and wear them out BEFORE you leave for the day.
- When you do leave, resist that urge to give your dog the extra “kiss out the door” attention – in fact, an “Irish goodbye” would be better for them.
Everything is awesome. Now go walk your mofo 🙂
For more how to crate train, how to teach and use commands, and everything you need to live your best pet-parent life, check out my online courses.