Make Boarding Easy by Reducing Separation Anxiety

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Published: 24th October 2012
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If you have a dog, there is a good chance that sooner or later you are going to need to board it. For some dogs, this is an extremely stressful situation; for others, it hardly fazes them—and some even enjoy it. What is often the difference between such dogs is called separation anxiety. Minimizing separation anxiety is something you can do to help your dog and you—and not just for boarding, but for a better quality of life every day.

So what exactly is separation anxiety? In short, it is a measure of how much that dog needs your presence to feel secure and satisfied. Between humans, it’s called being co-dependent. If you have ever seen someone in a severely co-dependent relationship then you know how miserable and/or out of control they can become when the person they depend upon is not around.

As with people, a dog with separation anxiety needs to learn that it can be perfectly happy and fine when you are not around. When a dog learns this, your absence will not cause it to become anxious (which can lead to undesirable behaviors). And when you have to board your dog, you may be surprised to find that he enjoys it. Following are three big tips to help reduce or eliminate a dog’s separation anxiety.*

Ignore your dog
One of the biggest causes of separation anxiety is also one of the reasons dog lovers have dogs—they are our biggest fans. Every time we walk in the door, they greet us and we cheerfully greet them. It’s a giant love fest. It feels good and everyone is happy, right? So what’s wrong with that?
The problem is that if the dog is anxious when you leave, then your triumphant and celebratory return sends him a different message. It is something along the lines of:
Yes! I have returned! You were worried that I might not—and you should have been—but now I am back and all is well! This is cause to celebrate! After all, the next time I leave may be the last time you see me.
Ignore your dog when you leave and ignore him when you first arrive home. Your coming and going are no big deal. When you get home, wait until he is calm and ignoring you before you pay him any attention.

Mix-up your doggie routine
If dogs could talk, they could teach spies how to observe their targets. Your dog will know your routine better than you do. The stricter your routine, the more a dog can come to depend on it. Mixing up what you do with your dog and when you do it enable him to be adaptable to other changes.

Socialize your dog
Expose your dog to as many situations, people, and other pets as you can in a safe manner. The bigger his world is then the less impact an unfamiliar situation will have.

*Every dog is different. These training tips are for a general audience. If your dog is experiencing any severe behavioral disorder, contact a qualified trainer/behaviorist. A qualified trainer/behaviorist will need to obtain information from you and observe your dog in order to make an informed diagnosis and create a behavior-modification program.

Written by Jill Manty for the owner of

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