Do you have any suggestions for a dog with separation anxiety? We can not even go for laundry in the basement or walk outside without our 7 month old Bischon/Cavalier going insane. It’s very frustrating and he even just barks at as non stop when we are relaxing at night on the couch. We play with him, he goes out in the yard, and we are just going crazy! He’s lucky he is the cutest dog around!
Separation anxiety is unfortunately a very common problem these days, particularly with small breed dogs. It is important to remember that dogs have no sense of time. It doesn’t matter if you leave them for 5 minutes or 5 hours, what matters is that you left them. So, there are several things you can do to help him deal with you leaving. Firstly, never acknowledge your dog when you leave or when you return. This makes your coming and going a ‘non issue’. When you leave, simply pick up your things and go. When you return, do not give your dog attention. Put your things down, busy yourself with something, and then once your dog is totally calm, you can calmly reach down and say hello. Do not make your coming home exciting for him in any way. In addition to this, I suggest you pick up your keys and leave the house as frequently as possible for short periods of time. Just go stand outside for a minute or two, and then return. The more often you do this, the more he will realize you leave, but you always come back! Continuing with these changes will help him relax about being away from you.
The barking at you when you are on the couch is a totally separate issue. This is for attention. He is demanding it, and it sounds as if at least some of the time, he wins and you take him out to play. Never reward him for barking at you. The best thing to do is simply get up and walk away. Dogs quickly learn to stop doing something if they are not getting the result they want. He gets attention when he is calm and quiet, never when he barks. On a side note, be sure he is getting at least two good walks a day to help with his energy levels. Young dogs need lots of exercise, and often these behaviors are an indication that they need more!