Leaving Your Dog Holding The Emotional Bag

By Sean O’Shea

One of the best ways to create an anxious, hyped-up, destructive, barking, whining, howling, crate-breaking, separation anxiety filled dog, is to share an effusive goodbye.

Even when you leave without fanfare, it’s already hard on your dog. They’re likely already somewhat worried and concerned…worked up emotionally.

So the last thing you want to do is make something that’s already difficult for your dog…a thousand times worse.

The tendency for us is to want to connect and communicate to our dogs. We want them to know we love them. That we’re coming back. That we’re sorry. That everything will be okay.

And that’s exactly how you make everything not okay.

Even though the intention is 100% positive, the actual outcome for the dog is the opposite. They’re left feeling confused, worked up, excited, emotionally stimulated. And then – you leave.

Then they’re left with all the emotional elevation, and nowhere to put it. The contrast, from what you just shared, to what they’re now left with is enormous. And that energy and stimulation you created has to go somewhere. So it goes into all the negative stuff I described above.

You basically leave your dog holding the emotional bag. Your intentions were to calm and soothe, but what they created was suffering and overwhelm.

I know that’s not what you want. And it’s not what your dog wants either. Trust me.

If you really want to help your dog feel better. If you really want your dog to not worry. If you really want you dog to relax while you’re away, then don’t load them up with physical and emotional juice prior to leaving. Just leave. Just make it as normal and non-eventful as possible. Just be neutral. Just go.

Understand that what you’re trying to convey isn’t landing the way you want, and it certainly isn’t creating the positive, comforting reaction you desire. Understand that if your heart is wanting you to reach out and soothe, make sure your brain overrides it. Understand that as connected as we are, certain communications get severely lost in translation.

Even though your human heart may feel cold and uncaring by just leaving, your dog won’t receive it like that. His or her feelings won’t be hurt, they won’t think you don’t love them, and they won’t hold an emotional grudge. On the contrary, you’ll actually be helping them. Helping them to feel more comfort, more calm, more relaxation, and more acceptance of your departure.

And that’s what you really want. šŸ™‚

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  1. Steffi said:

    That is an interesting perspective – I am sure it would make the lives of many anxious dogs easier if the goodbye isn’t celebrated too much!

  2. Well said. I had a client who would make a big production every time they would leave their dog. Needless to say it helped A LOT when they took a step back and the dog was much much calmer and less destructive. Have been following you all on Facebook for a while but just found the site from a google search loving it!

  3. Lisa said:

    Exactly this! It is so important to show your dog that leaving the house is just a normal thing and that he/she doesn’t have to worry while you’re away. It’s hard at first but you get used to it. A friend of mine needs about 5 minutes every day to say good bye to her dog when she is off to work and then wonders why her dog keeps barking nearly all day and doesn’t really behave (has a pet cam).

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