- Robert Berkelhammer, M.Ed.
Dog Owner’s Home During Transport Pickup! Separation Anxiety & Conflicted Territorial Loyalties
Pet professionals picking up certain dog’s for doggy daycare or dog behavior playgroup from the dog parent’s home may encounter challenges if the parent is home and in the vicinity of their pooch. Parents may be home parenting or telecommuting.
The pet transporter goal is to:
Enter and exit the home quickly and peacefully, properly attach the harness and collar to the dog, and occasionally fit a coat.
Avoid excessive socializing with the pet owner.
Pick up any payment for services or written notes from the dog owner.
Certain dogs may react in a conflicted way when a dog parent is nearby in the home and not behind a closed door. Other dogs will transition easily when their owner is home and visible.
I am reminded of children’s separation anxiety when a grandparent comes to the home to take them out for an activity. The child may cleave to the parents leg not wanting to let go, squeezing tighter and tighter and maybe crying a little. A child may also become loud, hysterical, and angry. Soon, however, the child relinquishes their grip and runs into their grand-parents arms happily. This process shows the child feeling separation anxiety and overcoming it.
Dogs can feel conflicted loyalties in transition for pet transport. Dogs can become territorial and wish to protect the owner and be conflicted between going to a place they love and cherish and protecting their owner from a false threat. The dog often knows and adores the transport driver and is excited by transport pickup for daycare or playgroup, but may growl to protect their parent and territory. Growling is not a positive in this context. A dog parent seeing their dog growl at a pet professional needs to understand the dynamics and context occurring, becoming part of a solution.
Parents at home need to either:
Command their dog to follow the lead of the transport person or move away from the vicinity and into another room behind a closed door to minimize difficulties in the transition.
It is best for dog parents of certain dogs not to be involved in the transition to transport unless they place the harness and leash on themselves and walk the dog to the pet transporter at the front door.
Additionally, an owner expressing a syrupy empathic voice while stating “Oh Delilah, whats wrong? Are you alright? …” may not be helpful. It distracts their dog and doesn’t command their dog to follow basic obedience commands of “Come” the pet transport owner may be using. Pet owners need top remember the transport person has a timed schedule of dogs to pick up and drop off at the facility.
Most dogs home alone for transport transition easily from the home, allowing the harness, leash, and collar to be fastened by the transport driver. The dog will often approach the transport driver happily and quickly unless they are asleep or in a distant room in the home. Dogs that tend to be asleep and a distance from the front door can be trained by use of a treat and the transport driver calling them to come.
Monte is a large dog I have trained to awaken quickly from his winter sleeps at pickup by tapping loudly the metal treat bin cover on the glass treat container. I give Monte a treat as soon as he appears to be collared and harnessed. This solution has decreased from 5 minutes to 90 seconds the time it takes to transition Monte out of the home.
My book, Pet Care Givers and Families, details dog transporting in the index under “transporting dogs…”
Robert Berkelhammer is the Author of Pet Care Givers & Families: Getting the Most From Dog Playgroups, Pet Sitters, and Walkers.
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