How To Cure Dog Separation Anxiety.
Does your puppy suffer from puppy separation anxiety? This article will explain what separation anxiety is and what to do to make your puppy feel safe and secure when you have to leave him alone.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is defined as a puppy or dog’s exaggerated fear of being separated from its leader. This causes your puppy great distress and it happens every time you leave the house.
Signs of separation anxiety can be barking, howling, whining, chewing, destroying things, urinating or defecating in the house, or scratching feverishly at the door. Depending on how anxious your puppy is, separation anxiety could include one or all of these symptoms.
Dogs are pack animals and when a puppy comes into your house, the humans who live there become his pack. Your puppy wants to be with the pack as much as possible. You must teach him to stay alone and to remain calm while alone.
What should you do?
Crate training is a good starting point. Place it somewhere that he will be comfortable entering and exiting it. Leave the door open and let him explore his safe place. You will find that he’ll soon start using the crate when he’s feeling insecure or vulnerable.
For starters, crate your puppy for a few minutes while you remain in the room. Sit where he can see you and read a book or watch TV. If he remains calm, let him out of the crate, praise him and give him a small treat.
A nutritious treat such as a small piece of cheese or apple is best.
You may then gradually increase the time that he is in the crate to about ten minutes. The next time you put him in the crate, stay with him for a few minutes, and then leave the room for a minute or so. Come back and stay with him for two to three minutes and leave the room again. This time stay a minute and a half. Gradually increase the time you are out of the room. When your puppy remains calm, release him, pet him and give him a small treat, then spend a little time playing with him. He will soon get the message that if he remains calm, he gets a treat and some praise. If he whines, cries, howls or barks, he gets nothing. Never rush to let him out of the crate. Allow him to stay there until he becomes calm.
Leaving your Puppy
When you come home from work, don’t go directly to his crate, though this is very tempting. If your puppy whines, cries, barks or howls, leave him in the crate until he has calmed down. Then, release him, lavish him with praise and take him out.
You should have a family member, friend or neighbor look in on your puppy if you are away all day. Have the person take him to his outdoor bathroom and for a little walk. Possibly they could play with him for a while before putting him back in the crate. Instruct them to put your puppy back into the crate and leave without any fuss. This is very important. Fussing over a dog that is already anxious will only make him worse.
Keep a schedule as much as possible. That way your puppy will anticipate your homecoming but will not be over anxious about it. Dogs have a time clock in their heads and after you’ve returned home at that same time for a few days, he will look forward to your arrival.
Avoiding Separation Anxiety
Make sure that your puppy gets lots of exercise and is taken out in the morning before you leave for work. The crate will become your puppy’s den. Any accidents will upset him, as dogs never “go” in their dens. This can also make his anxiety worse.
When you leave in the morning, put a toy or two into your puppy’s crate. A gong is perfect. Stuff it with a bit of peanut butter or a dog treat. That will keep him busy while you make your departure. Don’t make a fuss when you’re going out the door. Put puppy in his cage with his toy, say something like, “see you later,” or “see you tonight,” and leave. The less fuss, the less anxiety your puppy will feel.
It’s natural for your puppy to whine and cry when you leave. True separation anxiety is when your puppy barks, howls, cries and whines the entire time you’re gone. (And you will find out. The neighbors will tell you.) In case your puppy escapes his crate, be sure to puppy proof your home. Coming home to a destroyed house will give you “coming home” anxiety.
Be persistent in your efforts. Don’t give up. If your puppy gets out of his cage, find a way to secure it so he can’t get out. Lock it with a padlock or clamp or tie it with heavy rope. This should keep him secure while you’re gone but don’t be surprised if he tries to find a way out. And if there is any possible way of escape, he will find it.
Remember that some puppies can only be left alone for a few minutes before panic sets in. Your puppy knows that you’ve left and has no way of knowing if or when you’ll return. Use positive reinforcement, recognize his fears, reassure him at a time when you’re not leaving the house.
Teach your puppy basic commands such as lie down, sit and stay. When he obeys, talk to him in a soothing voice. When he is successful, praise him, pet him and give him a small treat.
When you leave the house for extended periods of time, leave a radio or TV going. Some puppies enjoy music and will lie quietly and listen to it while you’re away. Your puppy will soon learn to treat the voice of the announcer as that of a member of his pack and he will remain clam if you always put on the same station.
Your puppy will know when you are getting ready to leave. He will read your body language as you dress, slip on your shoes and pick up the car keys. If you believe your puppy is picking up on these clues, dress early, put on your shoes and take them off several times. Pick up the car keys and lay them back down, and remain at the house for a few minutes. If you do this everyday, your puppy will soon be desensitized and will no longer look for these clues. Once he ignores the signs, gather your things and leave quickly.
If nothing seems to work and your puppy is still panicking when you leave, take him to a professional dog trainer who specializes in behavior. Chances are he will be able to pinpoint exactly where you’re going wrong.
A Last Resort
As a last resort, take your puppy to the veterinarian and ask him to prescribe a medication that will ease your puppy’s separation anxiety. Most vets will do this and it makes life a little easier for both you and your puppy.
Once you’ve mastered your puppy’s separation anxiety, you will notice other changes in his demeanor. He will be less stressed, more carefree and enthusiastic. He will have a better lease on life, which will ease your stress and help the two of you develop a longing, wonderful long-lasting relationship.
As a footnote, your puppy may find pleasure in a warm bath and some “one on one” time with you, after you’ve been gone a while. To facilitate the drying of your puppy’s hair, you could use the Norwex microfiber. These Norwex antibac mitts and towels will dry your dog’s coat very quickly. They are handy for wiping puppy’s feet when coming in from outdoors too. You can find these amazing Norwex Antibac Microfiber Pet Sets at www.SimplyGreenNorwex.com.