When You Leave The House
What do you say to your dog when you are getting ready to leave the house? Do you make a fuss? Does it sound something like this, “I have to go now honey, but Mommy (or Daddy) will be back soon, okay? I love you. Don’t worry baby I’ll be back soon, okay?” Blah, blah, blah
One of the best ways to create an anxious, destructive, barking, howling, separation anxiety-filled dog is to share an effusive goodbye. Even when you leave without fanfare it’s hard on your dog and he/she is likely to get worried and concerned, even worked-up emotionally. So, the last thing you want to do is make something that’s already difficult for your dog even worse.
Most people share the desire to connect and communicate with our dogs. We want them to know we love them, right? We want them to know that we’re coming back when we leave and that everything will be okay. Those good intentions, however, are exactly how you make everything not okay. Your dog is left feeling confused, excited and emotionally stimulated. And then – you leave! The contrast from what you just shared, to what they’re now left with is enormous and that energy and stimulation you created have to go somewhere, so it goes into all the negative stuff described above. You basically leave your dog holding the emotional bag.
If you really want to help your dog feel better. If you really want your dog to relax while you’re away, then don’t load them up with physical and emotional juice prior to leaving. Just leave — make it normal and non-eventful. Even though your human heart may feel cold and uncaring by just leaving, your dog won’t receive it like that. His or her feelings won’t be hurt, they won’t think you don’t love them and they won’t hold an emotional grudge. On the contrary, you’ll actually be helping them feel more comfortable, more relaxed and more accepting of your departure and that is the goal, right? Right!
Over-indulging Your Dog, Are You?
Most pet owners don’t realize that there are consequences to giving your dog too much love, freedom, and unearned affection. This type of human behavior creates perceptions about you that can lead to issues with your dog. You see, everything you do or don’t do is giving your dog information about who you are and how he/she should respond to you. We are constantly dropping clues to our pets about everything.
When your relationship with your dog is lopsided, unbalanced and based far more on spoiling than on rules and structure, your dog is going to have issues. If you want a dog with issues, have at it. But if you want a dog who does not have human-caused problems then keep reading.
You think the spoiling might lead to begging or barking at you, but instead, it leads to resource guarding. You think that allowing your dog to pull you on the walk might lead to barking at other dogs, but instead, it leads to growling and snapping at guests in the house. You think allowing jumping, barking, and craziness in the house will just lead to bad manners, but instead, it leads to separation anxiety. While the origins of these serious issues might seem dramatic and improbable, I can assure you we’ve seen them all in action.
We’ve seen relationship gaps between pets and their owners create what seem to be amazingly disconnected issues. The thing is, you don’t get to choose how your behavior (or lack thereof) affects your dog’s behavior. You don’t know what’s going to come out the other end of a relationship that’s short on leadership, rules, and accountability, and long on chaos and permissiveness.
Oftentimes it makes clear sense. The behavior you think you’re possibly creating (and are okay with) is what you get. But just as often it’s not. Often the dog’s individual psychological make-up and personality create an outcome you’d think was totally unrelated. But what happens is, your dog’s personal insecurities, temperament, genetics, and attitude become a giant mixer – a mixer that combines with what you add to it. You both add your parts, stir them up with daily life and repetition, and voila, you get some nasty behavior that SEEMS totally unrelated. But it’s not.
Do we sometimes need specific protocols for specific issues? Of course. But by and large, a simple program of believable leadership, non-negotiable rules, dependable structure and accountability for poor choices are what make 95% of the changes.
Do you know how many resource guarders stop guarding once they experience a few rules totally unrelated to their guarding? Or how many territorial pups stop being territorial once believable leadership is in place? Or how many separation anxiety dogs relax and stop freaking out once they learn that structure, rules, and accountability are prioritized over freedom and affection? Lots and lots of them.
Leadership gaps, rule gaps, structure gaps, accountability gaps – accompanied by permissiveness, over-affection, and too much freedom are the perfect recipe to create dog behavior problems. The thing is, you never know which ones.
Don’t worry, being a good dog parent is something most people have to learn. Many people elect to allow their pets to sleep in their beds, eat off their plates, bark when the doorbell rings, etc. But the truth is, your pets, just like kids, are watching and learning from you every second of the day. And as smart as your dog is, he/she doesn’t understand the phrase “do as I say, not as I do.”