How To Prevent Separation Anxiety In Puppies

When you are raising a puppy, there will be many behavior issues that you will have to face with your puppy and separate anxiety is going to be one of them.

By knowing how to prevent separation anxiety and deal with it when your puppy is exhibiting this disorder, you are in a good position to help your puppy overcome it.

Without further ado, let’s get going!

In this posting, I will share with you on:

  1. What Causes Puppies To Have Separate Anxiety?
  2. What Are the Signs of Puppy Separation Anxiety?
  3. What Can You Do To Prevent Separation Anxiety In Puppies?
  4. Will Puppy Separation Anxiety Ever Go Away?

What Causes Puppies To Have Separate Anxiety?

Puppies will start exhibiting separate anxiety behavior on the following situation:

1. Premature Separation  – This is likely the case where he is separated from his mother when he is still very young (at the age between 5 -12 weeks).

2. Separation From People He Is Attached To – This is likely the case where he finds you (his pack leader) goes missing. You may have been with him for most of the time but you suddenly go missing for a week (on a business trip).

3. Isolation Distress– This is the case where he finds him being left alone most of the time (feeling neglected).

4. Fear Of Being Confined – This is the case where he finds himself being “trapped” in a confined space such as a crate or being “locked” in a small room with the door closed and restricting his freedom.

5. Relocation To A New Environment. This is the case where he finds himself in a totally new environment – new people, new surroundings and unfamiliar scent and is feeling a sense of loss.

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What Are the Signs of Puppy Separation Anxiety?

Watch out for the following signs to determine if your puppy is suffering from separate anxiety disorder:

1. Pacing, crying or barking non-stop when he sees you leaving the house.

2. Urinating and defecating on the floor. If you leave him alone and find that he urinates or defecates on the area, he could be suffering from anxiety disorder. Of course, this is just one of the possibilities and you might need to investigate further. Some time, improper urination could be due to health issue, or he is not yet properly potty trained.

3. Chewing and digging behavior. He may start chewing and biting on the home furniture and scratching the door. This behavior is triggered by his anxiety and will usually stop when you are around.

4. Trying to break free. You will see that he is trying all his means to break free from his confinement area to make his way out. In the case that he is in the crate, he will be biting the crate and if he is in an enclosed room, he will attempt to scratch the door.

5. Keep following you. You will observe that wherever you go, your puppy will keep following you as if he is worried that you would abandon him.

What Can You Do To Prevent Separation Anxiety In Puppies?

Puppies are very sociable animals, and they love to be around their pack members or people that they are attached to. When they find themselves alone, they tend to get distress and exhibit anxiety reactions.

So, it is important that you have someone (if you are not available) to spend some quality time with him (playing his favorite games) so that he doesn’t feel lonely.

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Spend Time With Him

Your puppy is getting separation anxiety because he is lonely and often found himself neglected. 

By allocating more quality time with him, you are building the bond and trust with him, and he will feel the love and affliction that he is getting from you.

Interactive games such as fetch and tug of war will be an ideal choice as it helps to bring you closer to him. Remember that dog’s happiness comes from playing.

In case you are not available for him, you can give him some toys (preferably the one that stuff with food so that he can use his brain trying to figure out how to get the treat out from the toy) to keep him busy, and he would not get bored or lonely.

Spending time with your puppy is a MUST. You should dedicate at least 2 hours of social time with him daily if your time permits you to do so. You will find that the time invested is well spent as you will earn a well socialized and obedient puppy in time to come. He will love and trust you even more.

Of course, you can break this bonding time to maybe 4 sessions,  with each session lasting for 30 minutes.

Exercising Is A Must

When your puppy is full of excessive energy, he tends to get hyper and show signs of behavior issues such as anxiety and stress.Exercise provides a channel for him to release this energy.

When your dog is physically and mentally simulated, he will be a happy and well-adjusted dog and this can be accomplished through exercising (playing physical games such as fetch and mental simulation puzzle game).  

Adequate exercise will make him exhausted and tired and will free him from boredom. As the old saying goes – “A tired dog is a good dog”.

Physical Contact With Him

Nothing gives your dog that sense of comfort by simply giving him a hug. Just like when you are feeling depressed and your friend gives you that “hug”, does that simple action offer you much comfort and relief. 

Dog who is suffering from separation anxiety disorder needs that comfort from you. That sense of physical contact will tell him that “No Worry, I’m here for YOU!”

So do allocate some quiet moments each day to give him a long petting session. Your dog will certainly love it and appreciate your company. Do not simply leave him in a crate for the whole day.

Ease His Fear On Confinement Area

To overcome your dog’s phobia of being confined in a constraint area, make the confinement area a luxurious spot for him and ensure that he is able to move in and out at his own will, without restricting his freedom. 

This will help him to overcome his fear of the confinement area (which he views it as his jail room) that makes him anxious.

If you are using a crate as his confinement area, make sure that you place a warm blanket in the crate, along with his favorite toys to keep him company.

Keep the crate doors open so that he could move in and out freely. Place the crate at an area where he can easily see you from his crate. This will prevent him from separation anxiety.

Make Him Feel Comfortable On New Environment

When you adopt your puppy from the shelter, he will naturally be experiencing separation anxiety as he is away from his pack member and is now in a new environment, surrounded by unfamiliar people, things and smell. 

So you should do your best to make him feel relaxed and settle down fast. To make this possible, you will need to establish yourself as his pack leader so that he can look upon you for guidance, direction as well as protection.

It will certainly take time for him to consider you as his “alpha” dog and during the training, you can have him placed in a crate. Make sure that you make the crate cozy for him to be in. 

Dogs often consider crate as their den as it provides the security and safety that they are looking for. So it is certainly not too difficult to train your puppy to be comfortable in his crate and that would ease his anxiety as he slowly gets to settle down in the big environment (which is your home).

Be mindful to place the crate in an area where your family members will be around, preferably in your living room, so that your puppy will not feel lonely and neglected.

Do Not Punish Him For Any Undesirable Behavior

You should never ever punish or yell at a dog who exhibits signs of anxiety as that could easily worsen the situation.

Your puppy is getting very nervous and stressful as a result of his anxiety and you should try your best to calm him down. You could give him a gentle message or a light scratching to calm him down.

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Will Puppy Separation Anxiety Ever Go Away?

Yes, certainly this behavior can be overcome with training and elimination of the triggering causes.

In most cases, if the separation anxiety is due to the fear of being alone, spending more time with him and building up his confidence to be alone should cure his anxiety.

You may not see the improvement instantly as it could possibly take weeks or even months to reap the positive outcome, depending on the breed of your puppy.

If your puppy belongs to a breed which has a high level of anxiety, it will take more time and effort to be trained.

Dog breeds which tend to have high level of separation anxiety

  • The Labrador Retriever
  • Toy Poodle
  • The Border Collie
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • German Shepherd
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Bichon Frise
  • Vizsla

How do you know if your puppy is now “free” from separation anxiety?

Let him be alone for 90 minutes and monitor his reaction. If he is not showing any sign of separation anxiety, slowly increase the interval to a longer time period. 

Of course, you should NOT leave your puppy unattended and alone for a full day. As long as he is able to be alone for 4 hours, he is considered “well -trained”.

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