Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety in a puppy or dog is often misinterpret by the owner as “misbehavior”. Many puppies experience separation anxiety when left alone. They will often whine, bark, cry, howl, chew, dig, scratch at the door, soil the house or destroy your furniture and yard to express their stress or excitement. However, humans often have trained the puppies to behave this way without noticing it. Whenever the puppy started to show signs of discomfort or stress, we will immediately come back to reassure them, give them a pat or even a bone or biscuit to comfort them. Instead of comforting them, we have rewarded you r puppy and encourage him to behave like this. Dogs misinterpret our human sympathy as a reward or encouragement. The dog or puppy misinterpret our reassurance or sympathy as ‘Good dog, I liked your whining and barking, well done, keep it up.’

By saying ‘good bye’, ‘be good’, ‘we’ll be back shortly’ or any other farewell comments can also create separation anxiety problems. First, you have given your puppy a hint that you are leaving. Secondly, you have made your puppy excited before you are leaving the house. With all this energy and excitement, your puppy will either try his best to get you to come back or he/she will have to release his/her energy and boredom in some other way, like chewing, digging, barking.

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Image: www.bigdogbreeds101.com

However, there are some puppies with separation anxiety that are stressed, nervous and insecure when they are left alone. Very often, they are not sure how long will you be away for, or will you be coming back or not. Then they will start misbehaving to express this nervous energy. To prevent separation anxiety, dogs need to feel happy, secure, and comfortable when you’re away. A disciplinary life helps to make the puppy feels secure. If the puppy is used to your daily routines such as morning walks, your departure and arrivals, evening walks, meal times, playtimes and bedtimes, he/she is knows that you will come back. Hence, the puppy feels much more secure. Additionally, it’s important to give them things to do while you’re gone. Provide them with lots of toys, water to drink and a comfortable area for them to rest. Most important, exhaust them before you leave the house.Take them out for a long walk or run. When they are tired, they are less likely to misbehave and be destructive.

Another way to prevent separation anxiety is to set aside scheduled time periods to give your dog attention, play and exercise. A happy, well-exercised puppy will usually sleep or rest while you are gone. Be sure that one of the scheduled play sessions occurs before you leave for the day, then give your puppy a chance to settle down before you leave. Do not make a big deal of your departure, just leave the house without any emotion or any farewell comments.

If your puppy is already experiencing separation anxiety, then gradually get him used to your leaving. Practice leaving and returning several times a day until he gets used to your departures and realizes that you are not abandoning him forever. Start this by leaving the house for a few seconds and returining again, and gradually leave for a longer timeframe. This exercise is giving your puppy assurance that you will come back.

 

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