We love Ziggy Dog, but he is an incredibly clingy pup. I have read a few books and spoken to other labradoodle owners and now realise how it’s part of their nature, so I thought I’d share my top tips to prevent your dog from separation anxiety (whether they’re labradoodles or not!).
How to Prevent Your Dog From Separation Anxiety
I think it’s really important to know what makes your dog tick in order to prevent your dog from separation anxiety. It can be really distressing for dogs and owners alike, but once you figure out what causes such things, you can move forward in a positive way to tackle them.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Separation Anxiety – Top 9 Tips
Like most dogs, Ziggy is a creature of habit. He knows if things become routine, which is why he knows when to expect his breakfast and dinner. He has to have set times for his meals due to his medication for epilepsy, so this is one area we do keep in a strict routine. However…
Tip 1 Shake it up
Don’t get set into routines for walks. The worst thing for Ziggy is going out at exactly the same time every single day. If we did this and one day we couldn’t (because of an appointment or illness or anything out of the ‘norm’) he’d end up beside himself. We vary our walks every single day.
The other thing we always do is put him in his crate after every walk, whether we’re going out or not. This is shaking it up, because he doesn’t know whether we’re leaving him or not, so he gets used to both versions of the story.
Tip 2 Step outside before letting your dog out
I think I heard this tip from another labradoodle owner. It makes total sense. If you let your dog go out ahead of you, you’re reinforcing the fact that he’;s the boss. The boss goes ahead to check the safety of whatevers outside the ‘cave’. I always (even in the rain) step out ahead of Ziggy and then let him out afterwards. I am showing him that I’m the head of the pack…
Tip 3 Eat before they do
If you eat before you feed them, even if it’s just one bite of toast, it shows them that you’re most important. The most important members of the pack eat first, with the dregs left for the lowest of the pack. You must treat your dog as if he’s the lowest. This doesn’t mean being mean to him, it means putting everyone else first. Especially children.
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Tip 4 Don’t let them have the lay of the land
You’ve seen them on tv, the dogs that growl if you try to remove them from the sofa?! Well, you need to prevent that. Ziggy is allowed on our sofa, but we try to keep it to a minimum. If he’s up there constantly, he thinks he can go there anytime and this in turn increases his anxiety about his crate. Which brings me on to…
Tip 5 Make a crate a joyous place to be
A dog’s crate should be a haven. Firstly, I don’t over-wash his bed, because his scent is important – he knows it’s his home. Secondly, I make sure it’s cosy and warm and I occasionally leave surprise treats in there or (on occasion) we leave him with a chew toy covered in peanut butter if we go out. A crate shouldn’t be a punishment area, it should be a cosy haven.
Tip 6 Don’t let them follow you everywhere
I have to constantly remind myself to send Ziggy back downstairs or out from the bathroom. He’s an incredibly clingy dog, so we have to be strict with his boundaries. He wants company 24/7 which can be difficult when we’re off on home ed trips or general days out. So, sending him away and letting him get used to his own company is essential.
Tip 6 Don’t let them train you!
How many times do we react when a dog nudges our hand?! We’ve all done it. Given them loads of fuss and then they want more. Unfortunately this is something we need to avoid, because it re-emphasises their control over us humans. And with cuteness overload, that’s a lot of control! Just saying ‘No’ firmly and not responding is enough, but I know how hard it is!
Tip 7 Don’t get all excited when you come home/ when people visit
Giving your dog loads of attention as you walk through the door is a big no-no. It will only make them anxious for when you next leave. When we come home we potter around for a bit before letting him out, and we completely ignore him when we open the crate (most of the time!). The same goes for when guests visit, they need to ignore him otherwise it causes bad and unwanted behaviour.
Tip 8 Don’t give them constant attention
Once again, ignoring them the majority of the time will help with anxiety when you leave the house. They won’t find you as interesting or playful, so when you go out they won’t miss you as much. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play with them, but maybe a ball, treats and training would be a better use of our time compared to just fussing over them?!
Tip 9 Exercise!
Getting them out and getting them tired will help because it will tire them out and relax them. This means they will be too busy sleeping to worry about where you are!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my 9 tips on How to Prevent Your Dog From Separation Anxiety, please feel free to comment with any other tips you may have!