Puppy Separation Anxiety: How You Can Prevent It

Puppy separation anxiety is caused by the stress and fear of being left alone. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the stress your new puppy experiences when you leave home. Learn how to spot separation anxiety symptoms and know what you can do if your dog experiences it.

Common symptoms of dog separation anxiety include:

  • Barking, whining or howling
  • Destructive behavior (chewing or digging)
  • Depression
  • Aggressive attempts to escape
  • Obsessively following the Pet Parent
  • Trembling, panting or drooling
  • Self-mutilation, caused by excessive chewing or licking
  • Going potty in the house
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Over and under-eating

Once you have identified your dog's separation anxiety, here are tips you can incorporate into your daily routine to help alleviate the problem:

  • Adopt a low-key approach to goodbyes and hellos with your pet. If your home is a whirlwind of activity, move your puppy to his own special place a half hour or so before leaving so he isn't tense when everyone is gone.
  • Try playing the radio or leaving the television on when you are gone.
  • Be positive by rewarding good behavior with praise. Avoid acknowledging hyperactive greetings, jumping, pawing and other similar dog anxiety behaviors.
  • Prevent destructive behavior by keeping your puppy in a crate or designated area when you are gone and provide safe and stimulating toys. Dogs have a natural denning instinct, and they actually find crates comforting.
  • Practice leaving your pet alone for short periods of time when you are home. For example, leave him in one room while you are in another for a few minutes.
  • Take a basic obedience course with your puppy.
  • Try a calming aid. A variety of calming aids from scent-based diffusers to supplements may help dogs feel more relaxed when you leave the home.
  • Dogs know when you are leaving before you actually do. They know by your routine-maybe it is because you put on your shoes, pick up your car keys or put on your dress clothes in a certain order. If you can figure out what the clues are that spur your puppy's separation anxiety, you can try to desensitize him to these signs by repeating them, but not leaving and by giving him a treat and praise when he behaves well. When you have made progress, make your exits quiet and quick.
  • Ignore your puppy for 20 minutes after you return home and just before you leave.

When repeated with consistency, these training methods can help your puppy or adult dog overcome separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety can be a hurdle for you and your puppy, but together you can conquer his fears so he becomes a well-adjusted part of the family. If you think your puppy shows signs of separation anxiety, contact your veterinarian to talk about treatments.

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