Modern lifestyles often require us to be away from our puppies at times,
allowing them to develop their independence as they grow.
However, if not approached with care from a young age, this separation can trigger what's known as puppy separation anxiety.
"Some dogs feel anxious when they are left alone and may display unwanted and sometimes destructive behaviours as a result. Separation anxiety can develop in dogs for a number of reasons, but the most common is that they have never learned that it is ok to be alone." - Dogs Trust.
Managing separation anxiety can be demanding,
and in severe cases, seeking assistance from a professional dog training behaviourist might be necessary. Though puppies can't be left alone for extended periods, it's essential to introduce them to short moments of solitude to help them acclimate to being by themselves. Equipping your small breed dog when they are still a puppy with the right training can prevent separation anxiety from taking root.
But if your pup is already grappling with this issue, here are some valuable strategies to address it:
1. Create a Comfort Zone
Set up a designated "safe space" your puppy recognises, such as a cosy den with their dog bed or crate.
Furnish it with their favourite bedding and toys, even hiding a few beloved treats.
This environment becomes their security haven, especially when you're away.
2. Gradual Progress
Start with brief periods of being home alone, gradually extending the time.
Progress from, say, 5 minutes to 15, then to 30, and so on.
3. Avoid Overdoing It
Resist the urge to make a big fuss when you return home – this is vital.
A calm acknowledgment suffices.
This helps normalise your comings and goings, alleviating their worries.
4. Practice Patience
Overcoming separation anxiety takes time. Be patient and persistent; it won't resolve overnight.
5. Change the Routine
If your daily schedule entails leaving your puppy alone, consider alternating it a few days a week. Enlist the help of a friend, family member, or even doggy day care. This approach addresses separation anxiety and fosters social skills and independence. It's akin to sending a child to preschool! Handling puppy separation anxiety involves introducing them to solitude gradually, providing a secure space, and embracing patience.
By following these steps, you'll help your furry friend navigate this phase of their development with greater ease.
"Taking positive action to prevent or treat separation anxiety can help if: Your dog is showing obvious signs of distress. If you don't know whether there's a problem but want to help your dog to feel better when left alone." - RSPCA.
How to stop separation anxiety in dogs?
To stop separation anxiety in dogs, establish a consistent routine, gradually desensitise your dog to being alone through short absences, provide plenty of exercises and mental stimulation, use calming aids such as pheromone diffusers or calming music, and consider behaviour modification techniques such as counterconditioning and desensitisation.
Seek advice from a qualified behaviourist or dog trainer for personalised direction and assistance.
How to help a dog with separation anxiety?
Helping a dog with separation anxiety involves:
Creating a safe and comfortable environment.
Practising gradual departures and arrivals.
Providing mental and physical stimulation.
Using calming techniques such as interactive toys or puzzles.
Implementing behaviour modification strategies to change your dog's response to being alone.
When treating canines with separation anxiety, being patient, consistent, and providing positive reinforcement is crucial.
Dog separation anxiety when one person leaves?
Dog separation anxiety when one person leaves can be challenging to manage. Still, there are steps you can take to help ease your dog's distress.
Establish a predictable routine, provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, use calming aids or pheromone diffusers, and gradually desensitise your dog to departures by practicing short absences.
Additionally, think about getting a professional dog trainer or behaviourist to develop a personalised behaviour modification plan tailored to your dog's needs.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.
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Kate Phillips, Chief Editor
BSc (Hons), MSc
Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny and expert in small breed dogs. With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families, Kate shares her top tips with you. Kate guides readers on small breed dogs, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate luxury lifestyle for their small dogs.