You’re going on vacation and leaving your dog with a friend or at a pet hotel. You haven’t ever been away from your dog for a long period, and you’re feeling guilty. You don’t know how your dog will respond to your absence.
Your friend assures you that the pet hotel they are boarding at is great, but they can’t help but mention that some dogs become upset when their owners leave them there.
You don’t want your dog to suffer from homesickness. What can you do to prepare them for the separation?
There are a few things that you can try in order to make the experience easier for both of you.
Remember That Your Dog is Not Alone
One common misconception about pets is that they function independently of their human companions. They are viewed as being self-sufficient and don’t have any emotional attachment to the people in their lives.
It may be easy for us to think that way about our pets because we know that they communicate with us through body language, not words. Still, just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean they are completely separate from us.
Dogs are naturally pack animals, and they thrive when in a group. They become attached to their owners and suffer when left alone for long periods of time.
When you leave your dog at a pet hotel, it is important to remember that they will still think of themselves as being part of your “pack.” Separating from you can be very difficult for them.
The more people your dog is accustomed to being around, the less likely it is that they will have a problem being left at a pet hotel. If your dog spends time with other people on a regular basis, the chances are good that they will actually enjoy a stay at the pet hotel. Your dog will see all of those new people as just another member of the pack.
Prepare Your Dog
It is important to prepare your dog for the experience of being left alone before you actually leave. They need to know that it’s not unusual for you to drop everything and leave whenever you want. If you’re always there for them to lean on in new environments, it could heighten the separation anxiety even more.
To avoid this problem, gradually condition your dog to accept new experiences without always having you around. Take them on trips with you whenever possible to hang out in the care alone (to the grocery store, grandma’s house). If that isn’t feasible (or if Grandma lives far away), then periodically come home late at night after they are asleep. Teach your dog that nothing terrible happens when you’re gone.
Make Sure He’s Getting Enough Attention
Another way to help your dog accept separation from you is to make them feel like they always have plenty of companionship.
Remember, dogs are very social creatures. They don’t want to spend their lives alone, and they certainly don’t want to be ignored by the person who they love most (you). At least once a day, give your dog special attention so that they understand how much they means to you. It may even be beneficial for both of you if this interaction includes training or other activities that you both enjoy.
Teach Your Dog Appropriate Behavior
Dogs who experience separation anxiety tend to develop behavioral problems, such as chewing and digging in an attempt to entertain themselves while they are alone.
If your dog is doing this when you’re at home, it’s easy enough to correct the behavior (just remove them from whatever room they in until the behavior stops), but if your dog does these things when you are gone, it can be a little more difficult.
One of the best ways to stop a bad habit like this is with desensitization and counterconditioning. This method involves slowly exposing your dog to whatever makes them anxious while rewarding for good behavior. You must start very slowly, and always end on a positive note. It is important that your dog never experiences any anxiety during the process, or they will become even more stressed when you begin leaving them alone.
Take Your Dog to Stay at a Pet Hotel Before Leaving Them Alone For Long Periods of Time
If it isn’t possible for you to spend much time with your dog, then you should probably consider bringing them along on every trip. But since this isn’t always an option either, it’s best not to make these trips too often. The main reason it’s better not to leave your dog very often is that long separation periods are harder on them than short ones. If your dog spends only one night at a pet hotel before you leave for two weeks, his anxiety level may be so high that they will be too upset to enjoy themselves.
Remember, the more time you spend with your dog preparing them for separation, the easier it will be on both of you. If they know that you aren’t always going to be around but that this isn’t anything out of the ordinary (and that they’ll get lots of attention when you are home), they won’t become as anxious when you actually do leave.