August 29, 2011
Now that the dog days of summer are winding down and we’re heading into the busy fall season, it seems that back-to-school means our dogs are left at home on their own with the responsibility of entertaining themselves. This sudden shift in routine – family around all the time to suddenly being gone all day – can sometimes lead to behavioral issues related to isolation.
Poncho and I developed this little quiz for you to take to help determine if your dog might be bored, be on the brink of isolation distress (a.k.a: separation anxiety), or just hunky dory about being on their own.
Q: As you’re going through your ritual to leave for work and/or school, your dog:
- Lies on his or her bed, watching you get ready, relaxed.
- Begins pacing around back and forth, clinging to you.
Q: You head out the door, closing the door behind you. Your dog:
- Stays behind, relaxed as if they’re saying “Have a nice day!”
- Whimpers, whines, and scratches at the door to go with you.
Q: You come home from being away for only a half hour or so. It appears your dog:
- Didn’t appear to care one way or another. He or she was happy when you got home, plus the food you left for them has been eaten up!
- Eliminated on the rug, chewed up the door and window frame, and left the bowl of food alone.
Q: You come home from being gone all day. It appears your dog:
- Didn’t appear to care one way or another. He or she was happy when you get home, plus the food you left for them has been eaten up!
- Eliminated on the rug, chewed up the door and window frame, and left the bowl of food alone, chewed up paws, and according to your neighbors barked and howled all day.
- Is excited to see you, as if running to say “Welcome home!” However, you notice that not only is the food in the bowl gone, but your dog went counter-surfing and dumpster diving in your kitchen, redecorated the living room by chewing up the couch and pillows, helped with laundry by dragging it all over the house and chewing up your new socks, and topped it off by re-landscaping the yard by digging up the flowers you just planted.
If you’ve answered mostly 1’s in each question, then bravo to you! You’ve done a great job at teaching your dog to be independent and comfortable on his or her own! If you’ve answered mostly 2’s for each question then we recommend you consult with a certified professional dog trainer and/or vet behaviorist to discuss signs and symptoms related to canine isolation distress. There are medications and behavior modification plans that can be implemented to help with these issues.
If you’ve answered 3 to the last question, then consider your dog might be bored – scenarios such as this means your inquisitive canine is designing his or her own scavenger hunt! Providing enrichment is key to help prevent boredom related issues. Being passionate about this topic ourselves, we’ve blogged about it a lot! So click here to find out more about enrichment for dogs.
Keep in mind that our canine companions are social animals – they enjoy the company of others and often do not do well when left alone – unless you condition them to do so. Taking the time to teach them independence and coping skills are key in raising a healthy and happy dog! For help with these matters and more, feel free to contact us directly.