VETSAVERS: It takes time to stop dog’s anxiety

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Some dogs love us too much. There are lots of reasons why they show behavioural problems when left alone.

Young dogs that have not been taught to be left alone can exhibit continuous barking, digging or chewing household items – and in more extreme cases urinating and fouling in the house.

They cannot cope with being left by their owners but are not necessarily the needy dogs we spoke about last week.

Rescue dogs are particularly prone to this behaviour as they fear a repeat of their history when they may have been left alone for prolonged periods and unsure of the greeting they will get upon your return.

There are a number of things you can do to help.

First you must try and teach your puppy or dog that they can tolerate planned and short periods without you.

Leave your dog in a room that they are used to and normally left in, close the door and walk away.

Not more than five minutes later return to the room – without over fussing the dog. This will show the dog that it is perfectly normal for you to not be there all the time.

Repeat this exercise several times through the day gradually extending the time you are absent from the room. If your dog starts to bark, cry, scratches at the door or has chewed something when you return, leave for a shorter period next time and then try increasing it again.

Once you have reached 30 minutes when the dog has tolerated being left then you can step up to actually leaving the house.

When you have established that the dog is tolerating your absence you can extend the period of

time you are away but always remember to leave the dog in the same room with restricted access to the rest of the house.

Before you go for a longer period try these hints:

• Take the dog for a nice long walk or a good play session well before you plan to leave this will ensure that they have had time to settle down and are not all excited and hyper from the exercise

• Don’t make a big thing of leaving the house – if you don’t say a big goodbye when you leave the house this will reduce the dogs mental awareness of you not being there

• Feed your dog a small meal a short time before you leave – this can make your dog more relaxed and sleepy

• Make sure that the room you leave your dog in is safe! If they are going to exhibit destructive behaviour in the initial days then ensure no electrical cables, poisonous plants or valuable items are within their reach.