And the Oscar goes to…
Hi furriends! Have your pawrents ever played with you in a way where they make you believe that they are doing something when in reality they were just acting the part?
This Blog is a special dedication to my fellow pups who are currently experiencing “Separation Anxiety” when left home alone.
Over the years I’ve studied the daily habits of my hooman mom so well that I came to know all of the steps she took before leaving the house. In fact, I used to follow her closely around so much so that every time she turned around and looked at me, she knew that I too was excited and ready to go out.
However, going out with her wasn’t always an option. Sometimes she’d shut the door and I was left home alone with a lot of built up energy and frustrated expectation. Soon enough, I started to notice that whenever she dressed up fancily, applied some perfume and wore high heels, she was preparing to go to work, which also meant that she wasn’t taking me with her.
As things progressed, every time Mom put on her fancy shoes and headed out to the door I would start trembling, sometimes panting, because I knew I was about to be left home alone and it made me feel anxious. Eventually these symptoms led to all sorts of destructive behavior while I was left alone at home.
Mom and I have come a long way since those days.
The first training step in helping me with this anxiety was exercise, as it always is! This included mom scheduling time on her calendar every morning before getting ready for work so she could walk with me for at least 30 minutes, sometimes an hour. Exercise proved to be the best way to release my built up energy and allow me to stay calmer at home.
The next step to fixing a negative habit like the one I was developing was to break the pattern. For this to happen, mom had to teach me the “Space Command” which I talk about in my Blog called “Back to Basics, Creating My Space”. Once I was comfortable staying in my own space, she’d dress up nicely, apply some perfume, and grab her fancy purse and high heels, acting as if she was heading out to work. While doing this, she also observed my body language so as to recognize the exact moment when I transitioned from calm to anxious excitement. By doing this, she discovered that the moment she put on her shoes and grabbed the house keys was the exact moment that I’d start trembling.
This was a huge development and where our next step of training started. She’d dress up pretending to go out to work but right before heading to grab her shoes and keys, she’d immediately turn around and do other random things around the house. I felt so confused!! Right when I was about to start trembling thinking she was about to leave me, she didn’t. Because I was already exhausted by our morning walk, it was easier for me to feel sleepy and since apparently she had no plans for leaving I’d just stay in my space and take a nap. She acted this way several times up to the point where I no longer cared if she grabbed her shoes and house keys, because I was already calm and sleepy.
Mom continued to apply the same method every time she took a step further heading out of the house. Another important pattern she modified was her greeting habits whenever she left or came back. Mom eliminated her overly dramatic “Good Bye” and super happy and excited “Hello” to a complete silence! I know it sounds harsh and I was very confused at first. But soon I realized that Mom leaving and coming back to the house was no longer a big deal. I also learned that I get a lot of affection and treats if I’m sitting calmly in my space, which is normally my bed.
Following training steps alone only takes you so far. For us to succeed, Mom had to also start using her beautiful mind daily, indulging in thoughts that involved me accomplishing every step of our training easily and joyfully! Regardless of our current situation, she worked on seeing us succeed.
It took a high level of acting, exercise and calm energy, not just for me but also for my mom. Her positive thinking benefited the whole process as she remained calm and patient during our months of training.
In the end, it works if you work it! :)
Love & Paws,