Yes, you CAN leave your dog alone sometimes, it’s good for BOTH of you!
For those of you that know me well, you know my dogs are a bit of an obsession, and I lump them similarly with the care of a child. So after having the same discussion with many of my clients over the years, I created of a follow-up from my crating post last week. I want to discuss an issue that seems to arise often in my group puppy classes; The fact that we don’t want to leave our dogs alone, and the rising self diagnosis of “Separation Anxiety”. By no means am I discrediting the term, or affliction, but it is commonly misunderstood and is often not something clients realize they are instilling in their dogs from young ages, and early ownership. Lets say you have a brand new puppy, and you love him SO SO much that you just can’t stand the idea of him being alone…so you take him EVERYWHERE with you. I mean, you love him right? So that means he can’t be without you…right? I don’t think so. In fact, I am a FIRM believer that you CAN leave your dog at home sometimes, and it is beneficial…to BOTH of you.
-Imagine, if you will, being with someone one every day for as long as you can remember. Then, one day, they take off and leave you alone, what do you think is going to happen? So ends the life of your couch, kitchen chair, wall, door frame…you get the point. There are the lucky few that have a dog that just doesn’t care, but on average, you’re looking at a confused dog, that doesn’t understand why you left him standing alone in the kitchen.
-Your dog has the ability to learn to create self comfort, but it’s harder for them to understand if you don’t give them the chance to do it. Like any young mind, a puppy doesn’t just magically understand that he can be alone for a bit, and YES you will come back. It’s almost like the end of the world when you walk out the door, but they learn to relax over time and know that you will be back soon enough. If you are concerned about potty training, or destruction and safety, pop up a crate and let them chill in a safe space.
-Don’t create separation anxiety! Do your dog a favor and separate yourselves occasionally, giving them a fighting chance against the doggy epidemic of separation anxiety. You DEFINITELY CAN create separation anxiety in your dog by toting them around non stop, and then you’ll find yourself sitting down with a trainer, wondering where it all came from.
-On average, my clients don’t see the connection, and often assume the dog was “born that way”, or “must have been crated all the time in their old home”. While some dogs do in fact have more neurotic attitudes, not every dog with an issue was abused, neglected, or born with separation anxiety. Think about the young minds that are being molded, rescues are often tossed around with no consistency and are often returned because of issues created from the many homes they may pass through. New puppies are often treated like babies, and are allowed to do things we think are “cute” when they are small, and end up being a greater issue as they get older…like chewing your couch.
So do yourself, and your dog a favor…let them stay home so you can go out and do something with the two-legged pals you have. It will allow them to learn to settle on their own at home, so you can both enjoy some time of your own while creating a healthy mind-set for your dog, and unknowingly combat possible separation issues. The next time you want to head to a dog-free place, take your pup for a walk/provide mental stimulation, give them alone-safe toy items, puppy proof/crate, and take off for a bit guilt free! Why not help your dog build a healthy mind set about life from the get go!