The desensitizing approach

People are just as much creatures of habit as dogs are and tend to follow a specific pattern before leaving the house. This pattern becomes the dog's cue that you're about to depart. Make a list of your customary routine before you leave the house. For example, putting on makeup, picking up your bag or briefcase, picking up the car keys, putting on your coat, turning off the lights, and reassuring and petting the dog.

At odd intervals, several times during the day, go through your routine exactly as you would prior to leaving, and then sit in a chair and read the paper or watch TV, or just putter around the house. By following this procedure, you'll begin to desensitize the dog to the cues that you're about to leave.

When your dog ignores the cues, leave the house, without paying any attention to the dog, for about five minutes. Return, and again, don't pay any attention to him. Repeat this process, staying out for progressively longer periods. Turning on the radio or TV and providing suitable toys for your dog may also help. Whatever you do, make sure to ignore the dog for five minutes after your return. What you want to accomplish is to take the emotional element out of your going and coming so your dog will view the separation as a normal part of a day and not as reason to get excited.

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