Separation anxiety is, in my opinion, the worst dog training issue. The most challenging aspect is the fact that dogs can get worse if they are left alone for a longer amount of time then they can currently handle. For instance, if a dog is only comfortable being alone for fifteen minutes is left alone for three hours, he might get anxious after only five minutes next time.
This makes it very difficult to treat because, the fact is, most people have to leave their house at some point.
So, you should do everything you can to lessen the chances that your dog will get separation anxiety. One simple way is to never say, “Goodbye” to your dog. Saying, “Goodbye” is a distinct pre-departure signal that informs your dog that he will be alone for an extended period of time. If you really want to say this, you should say it every single time you leave the room. This way he will not know if you are leaving for five seconds or five hours.
Most likely you don’t want to say, “Goodbye” each and every time you leave the room, so it is just easier not to say it at all.
The reason that this is such an issue is that it tips your dog off to your departure. Seasonally, you might wear different clothes, or might wear different clothes on the weekend. You might leave at different times, either alone or with a friend or family member. These are different cues that your dog will notice, but might not be able to ascertain a specific pattern.
However, if you always make it clear that the word, “Goodbye” means that you will be gone for an extended period of time, your dog may start to pay attention to your entire predeparture routine. You might pick up your car keys and then say, “Goodbye”. Before that you might put down your coffee mug, or put your jacket on. You might turn on the radio or television for your dog thinking that this will keep him company, when in fact, it is a big cue that he is about to be left alone.
Even if you are not a complete creature of habit, you generally have a morning routine, and saying, “Goodbye” will be the final tipoff and could cause your dog to become anxious. It might take some time, but if your dog is predisposed to separation anxiety, your pattern will start to become clear and you might notice that when you start your morning routine your dog starts to get anxious. His anxiety could present itself as pacing, not eating, jumping on your bed and looking “depressed”.
Dogs have been known to get anxious when they hear the alarm clock because that is an indicator that the morning routine has started.If your dog already has signs of separation anxiety, you can cure this with some specific exercises found in my Separation Anxiety EBook and a lot of time and patience. It is much easier to prevent then it is to treat.