Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

Separation Anxiety Dogs: Minimize Contrast


Dogs with separation issues have a hard time with, to state the obvious, separation. Want to help your separation anxiety dog? Then minimize the contrast between when you are home and when you are not.

This means, if you cuddle with your dog pretty much nonstop when you are home, you actually set your dog up for problems when he is alone. How can you make things easier for your dog? Start here:

Time to Detox!

Your dog is probably a junkie – a companionship junkie. And while companionship is why you acquired this pet, his profound need for it and dependence on it is a big part of this problem.

Your dog is never – ever – going to sort this out on his own or come up with a workable solution. Think how hard it is for humans – who assumably know better – to change addictive-type patterns. Your dog has no chance on his own – change is entirely up to you.

In short, your “you junkie” needs a good detox. And doggy detox begins with: Less is more. Less of you is more beneficial for him: less contact, less attention, less proximity.

Aim for no more than ten minutes of attention per hour when you are home. “Attention” means lap time, belly rubs, unconsciously stroking his head, and any body, eye, verbal contact between you and your dog. This includes resting his head on your foot or lap, gazing at each other adoringly, etc.

  • Hands Off Your Dog
  • Eyes Off Your Dog
  • Dog On the Floor
  • You on the Furniture
  • Dog Off the Bed

If you have clutched your chest and gasped at these suggestions: Excellent! That means we have plenty we can change, and that should help your dog.

Also, ten minutes an hour is a ton of attention when it is doled out in a conscious, sincere way. I don’t want you to cease enjoying your dog, just do so in a productive way, and for separation stressed dogs, productive = limited and specific.

If you can’t imagine this, then think about interacting with him about as much as you interact with adult family members. How much direct attention do you give them when you are home?

Add in new ways to engage him by using food-dispensing dog toys, slow feeders instead of regular bowls, interactive toys and USA made chews. In short, your dog has too little to do and too much time to do it in.

Giving your dog more to do and changing how you interact with your separation anxiety dog sets the stage for him to begin calming down and becoming less dependent on you. And that is movement in the right direction.

Good luck! Feel free to post questions below. I’m happy to help.


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