Would a companion keep my dog calm?
(Q) My dog, Oscar, whines when we leave him at home alone. He paces and pants when we are about to leave and sometimes when we come home he has done a wee on the floor. Would getting a canine companion help calm him down?
(A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: In general, a second dog is not the answer to canine separation anxiety. Often the problem is associated with an over-attachment to the owner or another specific fear which will still occur even if another dog is present.
It can be helpful to video his responses while you are away so that you have an understanding of the severity of the issue. A behavioural therapist can help you to interpret the video and create a personal training programme. Your vet can refer you to a local specialist.
You will probably have to begin working on making your dog more independent within the home while you are there. Teaching him to settle on his bed and to play and eat independently will be a helpful first stage.
There are many types of interesting activity toy to engage your dog in independent play. Start while you are in the room and gradually build up to leaving the room while he plays alone.
Once your dog has some sense of independence you can start to build up to leaving him for short times. Be prepared that you may need to change your routine in the short term so that he is not left alone until he is ready.
You may find that Adaptil pheromone therapy can support him and speed up your progress.