Isolation/separation anxiety: not sure how to make dog’s time alone more pleasant and attractive

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/gpoaj3/isolationseparation_anxiety_not_sure_how_to_make/

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My husband and I recently adopted a long haired chihuahua rescue (5 year old) who howls and barks profusely when my husband and I leave the apartment. If one of us stays in the apartment, he's a bit anxious although fine. The problem comes when he's completely by himself (that's why I think it's isolation anxiety). Because of the coronavirus crisis, we are both currently working from home but that will eventually end and we want to prepare him for when we both go back to the office.

When we both go back to the office the idea is not to leave him by himself more than 4 or 5 hours. I work really close to my home so I can step out and walk him at midday or, worst case scenario, we'll hire a dog walker.

We were told that he would do horrible with a crate but the second day after I introduced the crate he started to use it! We never close the door to the crate and he chooses to sleep there part of the night or have naps . I think it's a gradual progress and we want to give him time.

What we are trying right now to do is to desensitize him:

– We leave several times for a short time during the day (between 5 to 30 minutes). We do this 3 or 4 times during the day, unfortunately it's harder during the week because of work.

– We try not to make a big fuzz when we arrive or leave

– When we arrive he barks at us A LOT and we ignore him until he calms down

Now, I heard that it's important for them to associate the time they spend alone with a positive experience. We have left treats around the house, given him a bully stick (he loves them) or left him with food dispensing toys. He completely ignores the toys and although he's interested in the treats/chews, the moment we leave the house he forgets about everything. How can we help him have a more positive experience when he's by himself then?

I should also say we take him for a long walk (1 hour) at least once a day to exercise.

TL;DR: Dog suffers isolation anxiety and barks a lot when alone at home, but doesn't seem interested in treats or toys when alone.

submitted by /u/Worried_Hope
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