Pets' Corner: Our dog won't let us leave the house

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The Independent Online

My partner has two dogs, one is a four-year-old Patterdale Terrier. The problem is that whenever anyone tries to leave the house he goes completely mad, starts barking and is really aggressive – then races madly around the house. He seems to be trying to stop us from going out and one day he nipped the back of my leg and this has made me really nervous. How can we stop this behaviour? Jeanette Thompson, via e-mail

I don't believe that this is a case of separation anxiety, because according to what you told me in your e-mail, he is fine once he is left alone. Your dog doesn't want you to go out either because he only wants to go with you, or maybe for you to stay in together as a "pack". You've got to make him feel more secure and remind him that he is a dog. First, set a few boundaries, like not letting him go out of the door first, making him sit before meal times and if he is allowed on the furniture, invite him up, don't let him just jump up. With the issue of going out of the house, you need to practise. You need to desensitise him to the cues of you going out, like putting on your coat or picking up your keys. Eventually, when he is calm and quiet, you will go out of the door and then come back in. This is going to take a long time. He should just learn to ignore you. Don't make a big deal of going out. When he is being good reward him with a treat. Think about getting some interesting chews to give to him when you are planning to go out and make sure he has had a good walk in advance.

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Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort, an early visit to the vet is always recommended