What is Separation Anxiety?
Puppy separation anxiety is a fairly common scenario that occurs with new puppy owners and first-time dog owners. It is in general categorized as the bewilderment that occurs when they leave their puppy alone only to come back home and find destruction awaiting them. They think it’s a one-time thing or that it may just be because their puppy is still fairly young. However, it’s a known problem to occur and is confirmed if you have someone dog sit for your puppy and they just won’t stop howling or whining.
Separation anxiety is when your puppy or even adult dog displays high levels of stress when you leave them alone up until the point that you return. The severity of the symptoms varies, however, the most obvious sign is panic or fear at being left alone in the house. Much like people, dogs may express stress in many different ways. Here are some behaviors your puppy may exhibit when experiencing separation anxiety:
- Behaviors that indicate high anxiety such as whining and whimpering, trembling as you prepare to leave and excessive pacing.
- Excessive barking or howling.
- Destroying things by chewing or digging. Clawing at doors.
- Ignoring potty training by urinating or defecating in inappropriate places
- Salivating too much/drooling. Dogs will pant a lot when experiencing SA.
- Perhaps the worst is escape attempts, dogs with severe SA may start banging against their enclosure or crate and can possibly injure themselves.
A truly heartwrenching fact is that many owners misunderstand this as bad behavior and in some cases—especially in the case of parents getting a dog for their child and deciding it’s too much work based on these symptoms.
What Causes Puppy Separation Anxiety?
While not much is known about what causes separation anxiety, one thing is known: that it seems to affect some puppies more than others regardless of upbringing or other circumstances. The symptoms of separation anxiety are often similar to those of shelter dogs that have experienced abuse.
Thankfully, most causes of separation anxiety are treatable with training and have more straightforward reasons behind them. Many dogs do not have separation anxiety at home, however, if they are left with a friend or family member temporarily they can exhibit separation anxiety while being dog sat for.
How Can Separation Anxiety in Puppies be Treated?
Crate training can be highly effective in treating anxiety. Many new dog owners mistakenly believe that puppies must be unhappy in their crates—and while you should not crate your dog for long periods of time, the crate is a safe place for puppies to come back to. Think of the crate as a safe, relaxing place for your puppy to settle down and feel comfortable in. Giving your dog a positive association with their crate is paramount to creating a space in which they feel at ease and in control. You can do this by leaving toys in there and giving him a treat every time you put him in the crate. Never use your crate as a means of punishment.
Desensitization training is also another method of teaching your dog to not panic when you have to leave. Many dogs exhibit separation anxiety symptoms the minute you show any cues that you’re leaving—such as getting your keys or putting your shoes on. The simplest way to begin desensitizing your puppy to these cues is to grab your keys when you’re not going anywhere or put on your shoes and just sit down on the couch. Another method is to leave your puppy alone for short but increasingly longer periods of time, show your puppy that being alone has its perks too. You can do this by giving him a treat right before you display your leaving cues.
Puppy Store Englewood, New Jersey
Silver Nickel Puppies has extensive experience breeding and bringing up puppies. Our dogs are pampered at our boutique location and are treated with the utmost care and consideration until they are chosen for a home. You can be certain that when you visit us to come pick up your pup, you’re getting a dog that has been brought up with tons of love and primed for good habits. Contact us here or visit our available puppies page to browse your next potential addition to the family!