Extract from Dr Roger Mugford's book "Dog Training the Mugford way" available on his website at http://www.companyofanimals.co.uk
When left at home alone many dogs become distressed and engage in unwanted behaviour. The prospects of resolving or easing the problems are good if a logical rather than an emotional approach is adopted.
The destructive dog is usually a well behaved, much loved pet in all other respects. Dogs thrive on human company; hence anxiety occurs as a result of separation from you.
Correction involves environmental adjustments and desensitisation
- Anxious dogs are rarely bored dogs, but the mental stimulation and physical exercise of a long walk will always produce a calmer pet to be left alone.
- Try to encourage as much play off the lead.
- On return feed half or more of the daily food ration to help produce drowsiness.
- Provide a warm bed to encourage sleep.
- Be particularly off hand or even rejecting before departure and do not respond to any demands for attention. Vary the routines that precede your departure e.g. putting on your coat, locking the doors etc.
- Do not excite him/her with prolonged or over-affectionate good-byes as this will increase feelings of desolation after you have left.
- Keep the dog guessing as to your intentions with brief or mock departures as well as genuine exits, so that the length of time to be left alone becomes less predictable.
- Damage usually occurs immediately after departure when anxiety is highest. Practice leaving the dog for frequent short spells, steadily increasing duration.
- Ideally the dog should be given the run of the house, but some dogs feel more secure if left enclosed in a warm den, either a small room or indoor kennel. Leave lights, radio or TV on, or playback recordings of family activities.
- Provide worn items of family clothing for bedding and plenty of chew bones.