How to Prepare Your Dog When you Will be Away #TTOT

As all dog owners know, our pets love routine.  Most pet parents can even set their watches to their pet’s play time, exercise, and feeding routines.  The love that dogs have for routine, however, can make an owner’s absence difficult on some pets.  There are a number of steps that dog owners can take to prepare their pets for various situations to make the transition to having the pet owner away an easy one.

Prepare your dog for your being away

Separation Anxiety
Dealing with separation anxiety can be frustrating for both dog and owner.  For mild cases of the disorder, a number of steps can transition the dog from fearing times when the owner is away to making positive associations with the owner’s absence.  The first step is to find a high-value reward for the dog, such as a cheese or peanut butter filled KONG, and only give this to your dog when you are about to leave the house.  The more your dog likes the particular item, the better.  By giving this to your dog when you leave, your dog will not only be distracted while you are away, but will also lead him or her to associate your absence with good things.

A second strategy is to practice leaving the house, without actually leaving.  On a day where you have the time to do so (such as on a Saturday) go through your typical getting-ready-to-leave routine.  Then, instead of leaving, simply touch the doorknob, but return to the couch and watch the television instead.  An hour or so later, repeat the process.  Alternatively, you can also practice leaving for short durations, such as to run to the bank or to the mailbox.  This break in routine will help your dog develop coping mechanisms for when you do actually leave.

Dog Sitter
To prepare your dog for having a visit from the dog sitter, you should socialize your dog as much as possible to new people.  Take your dog to a dog friendly area, such as a local pet store, and allow him or her to greet people.  Give plenty of positive reinforce for good behavior towards strangers.  If possible, have the pet sitter visit your house a few times so that your dog understands the sitter is not a home invader.  Also practice having new people come into the home in order to condition your dog to situations that may be unfamiliar.

Boarding
To ensure that your dog is comfortable with the boarding process and understands that he or she is not being abandoned, inquire about letting your dog visit the facility beforehand.  Ideally, you and your dog should be able to tour the building and meet the people who will be working with your dog.  If the kennel offers daycare, schedule one or two daycare visits before your dog is boarded.  If your dog’s first experience with being kenneled will be for a long duration, schedule to have your dog boarded for a single night before your trip, to ensure that everything goes smoothly.  Ultimately, the more socialized your dog is with any new experience, the better he or she will handle your absence.

 

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