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How to help your dog become more independent

Written by Sam

Do you have a clingy dog on your hands? Many people became first time pet owners during the pandemic and dogs had the benefit of spending a lot more time with their pet parents than they would have done in the normal world. As a result, many poor pups out there can’t bear to be away from their owners for longer than a minute! Another impact Covid-19 has had is the lack of socialisation. As a result, your pup may feel a bit uncomfortable around their peers or even other humans. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to change these habits! If you want to help your dog become a bit more independent, read on for our useful guide. 

Create a plan of action

It’s impossible to follow a new plan if you haven’t actually written down your new approach! Grab a pen and paper and make a list of what changes you’re going to make and note anything you need to buy (like toys or special treats). The key here is consistency and having everything written down will help you maintain your new routine and keep you on track.

Leave your dog for short periods of time

You don’t want to overwhelm your dog by suddenly leaving them for a long period of time. Start small; leave the room for a minute or so a couple of times a day and gradually increase this over the next few weeks. If your dog is struggling to cope with this, you can help moderate the approach with the next point!

Have distractions at the ready 

Shop the TastyBone range, which is sure to keep your dog distracted. In fact, they probably won’t even notice you’ve stepped out of the room when they’re gnawing down on one of our flavoursome nylon chew toys. It’s also worth investing in a couple of new toys that will keep your pooch busy during your planned separations. Interactive toys are great for this as they will help keep your dog’s brain stimulated as well as distracted! 

Change your environment 

We’ve spent more time at home in the last 18 months than ever before, so new environments can pose a bit of threat for all the lockdown pups. Pack a bag full of things your dog likes, such as treats, blankets, toys etc. and take them round to a friend’s house. Offer comfort if they feel unsettled and encourage them to focus on the items you’ve brought with you, rather than their surroundings. Once your dog feels a bit more at ease, they will likely start to explore their new environment as they gain confidence. 

Offer your dog rewards

Every time your dog shows improvement and gains a bit more independence, reward their behaviour with a treat! This lets them know they’ve displayed positive behaviour and will likely help them become a bit braver over time. Plus, we all know that most dogs will do anything in their power for a tasty treat

Keep introductions short

The lack of socialisation is something we’ve all suffered from and pet parents need to be conscious of this in the months to come. You can help your dog adapt to spending more time with their peers by meeting friends in the park, keeping the dogs on leads until you know it’s safe to let them run around together. If your pooch shows visible signs of stress, move away and let them watch the other dog from a distance. Over time, begin to move closer and closer until they’re eventually able to play together.

If it’s humans your dog is wary of, you can adopt a similar approach. Meet up with your friends, but ensure they know to keep their distance until your pet is comfortable. Overall, the trick here is consistent exposure, but in a measured way so as to not upset your pooch. 

Reassure your pooch 

Change is hard at the best of times, so teaching your dog to be more independent is likely going to be a bit difficult for them! Make sure you offer your dogs lots of cuddles throughout the process and ensure they know that you’re there for them! 

How has your dog coped with coming out of lockdown? Connect with us on social media today and share your stories!