Q: I recently relocated to a new apartment and my dog is not adjusting well to the move. I have been informed by neighbors that she howls and bays from the moment I leave, until I return. What can I do about my dog’s separation anxiety?
A: You have many options. These two ideas are just the tip of the “behavioral modification” iceberg, but the basic principle is that the key to altering a dog’s behavior is to consistently distract them from the source of their anxiety.
One suggestion is the “frozen treat toy”. This may be any chew toy (a ball, a kong, etc.) containing compartments or cavities. Fill each compartment with peanut butter and place the toy in the freezer. Have several on hand. When leaving your home, use a cue word or phrase that alerts your dog that not only are you leaving, but you will be returning as well. On your way out, confine your dog to a reasonable space and give it the frozen treat. The idea is that your dog will be so focused on getting to the peanut butter inside the toy, that your absence will not be not an issue.
A second option is a citronella collar. The collar has multiple sensitivity settings, and can be adjusted to match to your dog’s particular noise making ability. The collar is to reminds the pet, with a harmless puff of citronella, that barking, baying or howling is bad behavior.