Part of growing up to be a well-adjusted dog is learning to be alone. Chewy is not liking this part of growing up, but it is necessary. A solid dog is not a clingy dog, and thus they must learn to be alone for periods of time and not to be stressed about it. For certain portions of the day, Chewy is in our outdoor kennel or dog yard, getting accustomed to being there, first with other dogs and then on his own.
He is stubborn like his mother, and often makes as much noise as he can trying to get me to let him back inside. It is imperative that he learn to be ok with being alone, as one of the jobs the dogs have here is to be guard dogs. A dog that is nervous and constantly stressed is not doing his job. Chewy is already very attached to me (I did after all perform the duties of his mother when she did not), and while it may seem cute on the surface (“Aw, he loves you!” people say), for a dog that will be well over a hundred pounds full grown, the inability to cope with being alone can manifest itself in many unpleasant ways. Separation anxiety is not something that I encourage my dogs to develop. Starting at a young age they learn to be on their own for increasingly longer periods of time, without wailing, excessively barking, digging or destroying things. This can be challenging. Sometimes it is so difficult that people give up, allowing the dog to get what it wants, which only prolongs the problem and can create a lifetime of issues.
Teaching our dogs to be alone doesn’t mean that we do not love them, or that we want to discourage them from being with us, but it does mean that they must be ok with being in their crates, in the yard, wherever it is that they are required to be, and be just as ok with it as they are when they are at our side. With some dogs, this independence is natural. With others it can be a bit more challenging and must be cultivated. Chewy is of the latter persuasion. He is convinced most days that he will in fact fall into a million pieces and die a horrible, lonely death if I do not respond to his bellyaching immediately. He is getting better, though, and making strides in learning to be a well-rounded adult dog. Some days I have to remind myself that he is still a pup, and that it really wouldn’t be prudent to mail him to Abu Dhabi as my parents threatened to do with my sister and I when we were little and driving her crazy.
Do you have experience in dealing with separation anxiety? What did you do? Keep an eye on the blog this week for our tips on dealing with separation anxiety.
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