I’m reading a book called Don’t Leave Me! Step-by-Step Help for Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety by Nicole Wilde, and learning tremendously from it.
Nicole Wilde is a highly regarded dog trainer whose books and DVDs are top notch. Separation anxiety is a common canine problem, and it can be a huge problem for owners. Wilde shares her own experiences with her dog Sierra, a shelter rescue dog. Near the end of the book, she says:
As I write this, it is exactly seven months from the day we brought Sierra home. I won’t say she’s completely “cured,” but for a dog who’s been through so much in her short life, it’s a major improvement… Sierra is finally at the point where she can remain relaxed for a few hours while we are gone. We still wouldn’t leave her alone for a full day, and we can all live with that.
How did they get to that point? The book’s title includes “step by step” and the steps take you through evaluating the situation, for example, figuring out if the dog has separation problems regarding one particular person (our LarryDog has that with me) or whether it’s “isolation distress” that anyone being there can ease. (I think our Lola has this kind, but will try one of the tests recommended to see.)
Wilde has a lot of ideas for when you have to leave your dog or dogs home alone. She suggests methods that you first try out for very brief periods and later extend.
Also, nutrition, being sure your dog gets enough exercise, making a schedule for playdates and other social events for your dog, and using medications under veterinary care are all covered. Thee’s a great section called “The Alone Zone” on where your dog will be when you are out — in a crate or section of your home or yard. She talks about the routine leading up to your departure; notice which parts cause anxiety.
An excellent resource, in both Kindle and paperback: