Puppies hate being left alone. If it is up to them, they will probably follow you to the end of the World. But, they cannot. As much as you both enjoy your time together, there are times when you simply have to leave your pooch alone, and chances are, you have to do it on a daily basis. But just because you hear sad whining when you close the door doesn’t mean that your pup is anxious you left them alone. In order for you to be able to help them cope better with separation, you will first need to determine whether it really is anxious or not.
So, what are the signs of separation anxiety in puppies? If your pup is chewing things destructively when left alone, keeps urinating and defecating even if it is house trained, is barking, howling, and whining excessively, develops a habit of excessive digging or keeps scratching the door as an attempt to reunite with you, chances are, your pooch is suffering from separation anxiety.
Do not despair! This is completely normal and it happens in the majority of cases when the dog owner has a full-time job that requires them to leave the house for longer periods of time. Here are some tips that can help you knock down the anxiety and boost the mood of your pooch a bit while you are away:
– Do not make departures and arrivals a big deal. Keep ignoring your pup while getting ready to leave the house, and then gently pet them on the head before you leave the door. Do not turn to mush with them only to show them your back and close the door. Leaving with kisses and treats will not reassure your pooch. Quite the contrary. That will only leave them stressed out.
– Come up with a “Goodbye” word that you will use every time you leave your home. That will reassure your pup that you will actually get back.
– Make sure to leave the area where the pup will be staying dimly lit, so you can encourage sleep.
– Always leave toys around. Giving your pup something to chew on while alone is a great way for them to keep boredom at bay and not think about being left alone that much.
– If needed, leave the radio on playing relaxing music such as classical music or jazz, if you need to cover unfamiliar sounds and offer reassurance. The best advice is to play that music even when you are together in the house so that your pup will get used to it.
– Spend some time near their crate so that their safe haven will smell like you even after you leave the house. Some owners even leave recently worn pieces of clothes around so that the area will still have a strong scent of you.
– If you come home only to find a mess, do not yell or correct your pup. The correction will not be associated with the destruction that the puppy has caused, but with your arrival. Instead of teaching them to be more disciplined in the future, you are actually contributing to them feeling even more anxious the next time you leave the house. Instead of correcting, try to find a different approach to ensure that the destructive behavior will not happen again.
– If your pup is suffering from severe separation anxiety, consult with your veterinarian. They may suggest you hire a dog walker to take them on long walks, or even for you to sign your puppy up for a doggie daycare. Keep in mind that separation anxiety is not a result of lack of training. This form of anxiety and obedience have nothing in common, so don’t fool yourself into thinking that insufficient training is what causes your pooch to behave destructively when you leave the door. Follow the tips above and see if you can offer reassurance. If you keep providing reassurance from the early stages, your pup will soon learn to accept the routine and you will have no problem to leave your full-grown dog alone when going out in the future. Give it some time and be patient.