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Published: Jan 09, 2012

When you leave the house to go to work or run an errand, a well behaved dog should not bark, eliminate, jump on the furniture or otherwise act out. These are often signs of canine separation anxiety which can occur when a dog is too dependent on you or other members of the family. Your furry friends may also display anxious behaviors if they've had bad experiences while they were left alone, such as being frightened by a storm or other loud noises, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

To prevent a dog from developing separation anxiety, the ideal time to start training them is when they are puppies. When a departure is planned, give a pup an exercise session and then keep them busy with toys or mind puzzles of some sort.  Start with short absences and always reward for good behavior.  Don’t worry if you have an adult dog…they can still learn new tricks! VCA suggests that an intense session of play and exercise can help the dog burn some energy and get a decent dose of attention. Then, it can be helpful to ignore the animal for a short period (15 to 30 minutes) before leaving.  Provide appropriate engaging toys and treats to keep the pet busy and calm in your absence.  Always minimize cues that you are departing—such as jingling of keys, putting on your jacket in the house, etc. These tips can help them get used to being on their own and lessen the shock when you actually leave the home.

There are a number of different strategies to train a canine to be calm when you leave them alone, but sometimes external means may be necessary. If you've tried a few different training methods, you should consider speaking to a veterinarian about other options or possibly even drug therapy. They may recommend tranquilizer dog shots or other medications to accompany the early stages of training.