How to Prevent Your Puppy from Developing Separation Anxiety

Blog

When it comes to separation anxiety, as with most things, prevention is a whole lot better than treatment. Separation anxiety occurs when a puppy or adult dog becomes severely stressed and exhibits behavioural problems when left alone. Unfortunately, these behaviours, which range from excessive barking to destructive tendencies, are common causes for dogs being taken to shelters to await a new forever home. Separation anxiety also makes it very hard to leave your dog with a boarding facility when you need to go away for a week or two.

It's a problem that can develop and be treated at any point during a dog's life, but the condition will often be related to how the pooch in question was treated as a puppy. If you have a new little pup in the house, make sure you follow the advice provided below.  

Go in Small Steps

You really need to teach your puppy that being alone isn't the end of the world in increments. Many people take time off work or make sure the kids are on summer break when a puppy arrives, and that's a great way to make sure you all bond. However, going from constant attention to hours alone is really going to throw your new puppy.

Start off small by putting them in their crate and then staying in the same room without interacting with them, even if they start yelping. Only go to them again once they have calmed down. Repeat this with longer intervals, then move to another room altogether. Next, try leaving the house for 15 minutes, then an hour, then a couple of hours. This slowly gets your dog used to the feeling of being alone and repeatedly reinforces the idea that you're going to return once you leave.

Ensure They Feel Comfortable with Others

Sometimes separation anxiety is as much about being separated from you as it is about being separated from people in general. This is likely to occur if you live alone, and it can be a real problem when you need to leave your dog with a shelter or under the care of a friend.

To make sure your puppy is okay being with others when you aren't around, try using the same kind of process described above. Start by having them sit with someone else while you're in the room, then try leaving them in a different room with new people, then eventually have them in the house with someone new while you leave for a few hours. Finding participants shouldn't be too hard; who doesn't like spending time with a puppy?

Don't Reward Anxious Behaviour

Even after you follow these tips, it's still possible for your puppy to backslide, especially when you reinforce their behaviour. Paying excessive attention to them when they begin to get a little worried about you leaving will only make them repeat that behaviour.

Additionally, dogs look to you, their pack leader, to set the tone. If you respond to their pleas for attention as if there is something wrong, they will assume that something is wrong. Instead, ignore their leaps and barks, remaining calm and cool. Before you bid them goodbye, make them sit to reinforce the idea that you are in control of things. If you have to leave your dog for several days, you may want to consider leaving him or her at a boarding kennel.

Share

25 July 2016

Keeping a happy home

I work a fly-in, fly-out job. I begged my wife for a puppy last year, and she finally caved in just before I started this job. The dog was driving her a bit batty when I was away, as she also has the kids to look after. Unfortunately, my puppy gets a bit silly when my wife is at work, and the puppy digs up the backyard. We've just invested in a doggy daycare down the road, that even picks the dog up every morning, and it's making for a much happier household all round. This blog is about how doggy daycare can make life easier.