My pup, JetsetRuby, started traveling when she was 7 weeks old. Because she began traveling at a very young age, she’s well behaved on planes and at hotels — but every once in a while, she does have a bout of separation anxiety when I leave the hotel room. I can hear her bark as I leave. This seems to happen at random, and I can never predict these moments. Thankfully, I figured out the issue. If your dog barks when you leave a hotel room, here’s my best tip and advice.
I learned very early that to deal with dogs that suffer separation anxiety, you must always let them know that you’re coming back, whether it’s a gesture or phrase that you use with your pup. This was helpful for me when I traveled with her. I could leave the hotel room for hours, but telling her I’d be back seemed to offer comfort.
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This was also the case when I would travel somewhere abroad, like the Maldives, without her (leaving her with a friend or roommate to dogsit). The specific keyphrase I would use is: “Ruby, I’ll be right back, be a good girl.” This way, she would know that I would be coming back, whether it was a few hours or a few days. She would still get sad, but she knew I would return. If I *didn’t* say it, she would bark like crazy. It really was a good way to get her to stop barking in a hotel room.
A few years ago, I noticed my key phrase stopped working when we traveled at hotels. She would begin barking and scratching the door when I left (which you can hear in the hallway of a hotel or any other place you’re traveling). I was confused. This behavior made me believe her separation anxiety was getting worse because the phrase she knew well didn’t seem to work. It was odd because I never encountered this problem before, and what made the situation even harder to handle was that her reaction was at random. Most of the times when I said the phrase, she’d be fine. Other times, she’d go nuts and start barking.
I know dogs are hyperaware, so I tried to say the phrase in a stern way so she could pick up the scent of my dominance, rather than my scent of being anxious and not knowing if she would bark or not. Even still, she would still often bark in a hotel room after I shut the door and left, and I’d have to go back and stay with her or just take her with me wherever I was going (she has a small, soft sided airline-approved crated, so it’s not so difficult since she’s a small, 11-lb shihtzu). Wherever she went, she was fine in her crate bag.
When I was in Asheville, North Carolina, two years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a pet psychic. Lewisa basically communicated some of Ruby’s thoughts to me, and even psychoanalyzed some of her behavior. It was unreal. During the reading, I learned a lot about my dog (how she prefers the window seat on a plane, how she doesn’t like crowds, etc), but when I brought up Ruby’s separation anxiety and how she was randomly barking in a hotel room after I left sometimes, Lewisa gave me valuable advice. She said, in addition to my key phrase, I need to tell Ruby the time I’ll be back or when I’ll be back. So, I would say: “Ruby, I’ll be right back, be a good girl. I’ll be back in one hour.”
Lewisa says that dogs are a lot smarter than we think, and when we tell them when we’ll return, it eases them. They get comfortable and less anxious when they know the time frame of our return.
And it works.
I do it all the time now. Since, Ruby has stopped barking in a hotel room because I will tell her when I’ll be back when I leave the room.
If your dog is barking when you leave a hotel room, I suggest trying this method. You can also read this article on how you can crate train a dog with separation anxiety.Practice with your dog at home first. Whether you’re going to the grocery store or work, tell them when you’ll be back and be firm about the time, and see how well they respond. Eventually, when you and your pet travel to a hotel together, you’ll have peace of mind knowing they may not bark in the room this time around.
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