Teaching a Dog to Stay to Help it Practice Being Calm When Left Alone

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 18, 2017

In this Omaha dog training session we worked with a four-year-old Great Pyrenees named Molly (left) and her room mate, four-year-old Wire Hair Pointing Griffon Charlie who suffers from separation anxiety when left alone during a thunderstorm.

Neither dog had much respect for people’s personal space, but Charlie was a much worse offender once I sat down to discuss the dog behavior problems. I shared some dog behavior modification tips and ways to disagree with this unwanted dog behavior as well as the importance of rules, structure and exercise.

One of the main issues the family had called to set up this Omaha dog training and behavior session was Charlie’s separation anxiety when left alone during thunderstorms.

Before addressing the Separation Anxiety, I shared a tip I learned from a dog behavior expert that should help Charlie get over his fear of thunderstorms. If you have a dog who is scared when the thunder crashes, give us a call. Fixing that problem is pretty easy with the right positive dog training approach.

Next I turned my attention to Charlie’s slight separation anxiety. I say slight as he will eat when left alone and only chews on things when left alone while its thundering.

Most people fail to teach their dogs to be alone. Dogs are social creatures and we like to lavish them with praise and attention when we are home. Its awesome for the dog, up until you leave. Suddenly the dog has to go from 100% access of the humans to 0. For many dogs, that drastic change is too much to deal with. This is often one of the chief causes of separation anxiety.

To help Charlie practice being alone, I went over a very basic, and very under utilized dog training exercise, teaching a dog to stay. Im not a dog trainer, but I have helped many dogs learn to stay with this positive training method.

By training a dog to stay, we are able to help them practice being alone, sort of. Instead of being completely alone, we put the dog into a stay, then leave the room for progressively longer periods of time before coming back to release and reward the dog.

The dog knows we are home and its dong a job so its much easier for it to practice being alone, or at least outside of the immediate presence and sight of the members of the family.

The stay command takes a lot of practice in short sessions. The idea is to spread it throughout the day and in different locations so they dog is well versed in being alone in any room in the home. Once a dog learns to stay this way, practicing being alone is a snap.

I shared a number of dog training tips with the family when we wrapped up the session in the roadmap to success video embedded below.

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