If you own a dog, you know that it’s hard work.
Our furry friends need to spend quality time with us, to exercise and to play regularly.
But they also need to be properly trained to be left home alone.
Dogs provide opportunities to go outside, exercise and socialise with other dog owners. They can also make us feel less lonely and depressed.
They can also help us protect our homes when trained properly.
Dogs can also mean good news for landlords. They encourage renters to stay put for longer. This takes away stress for the landlord at having to find new tenants every year.
Learning to spend time alone is extremely important for your dog.
According to the RSPCA, eight out of 10 dogs may find it hard to cope when left home alone. They actually feel stressed about being separated from us.
Signs that your dog may be unhappy include barking, howling or destructive behaviour.
The RSPCA has introduced its #DogKind campaign to help owners better understand their dogs’ behaviour.
Training your dog will prevent them from becoming anxious when left by themselves.
The RSPCA recommends the following steps to help avoid separation-related bad behaviour:
Start by encouraging your dog to go to their bed while you’re still in the room. Try to get them to stay there for a short time and reward them for doing so.
Ask your dog to stay, while you move further away in the room. Return and reward.
Continue this routine, moving progressively further away and for longer periods of time. The distance and length of time will depend on your dog. If your dog reacts or moves, don’t reward them. But never punish them. Instead, just go back to the previous stage.
Progress the training by leaving the room before you go back and reward them. Next, go out and shut the door behind. Again, gradually increase the time you’re away from them.. Once you get to this point, you can start to actually leave the house. Your dog should feel less anxious, because they know you’ll come back.
Once you reach the stage where your dog is happy to be left home alone for up to an hour, you should be able to leave for longer periods.
If you’re worried your dog is currently showing signs of separation anxiety, visit the RSPCA website for expert advice.