Dog separation anxiety, especially in puppies, is a common problem that affects thousands of dog owners across the world and, if left untreated, it can become quite serious. Although we have not been able to pinpoint an exact root cause of separation anxiety, we are aware that it is usually because animals are not created to be alone. Dogs, in particular, are pack animals, so when we take a pup away from the rest of its litter, this is when we start witnessing the symptoms of loneliness. Sometimes, the symptoms can be limited to just a bit of initial barking and crying when we leave, but more often than not separation anxiety will produce destructive behaviors like chewing and biting.
It is important to recognize puppy separation anxiety and that he is not acting out on purpose to upset you. They are more prone to experiencing separation anxiety due to their need for more human interaction and attention. They also haven’t developed the skills that older dogs have so your puppy probably doesn’t realize that you will be coming back, making them an anxious dog.
Thankfully, there is a whole range of tools and techniques that you can use to get your puppy’s separation anxiety under control and this is what will set them up for good behavior and habits for the rest of their lives.
If you have noticed that your pet is showing signs of severe separation anxiety, then you should take action right away. Here are some of our top tips to help you keep your anxious dog safe and stress-free!
Puppies (especially when they are very young) simply can’t be left on their own for long periods of time. It is likely that you are still potty training your puppy if he is young, so you will need to make sure that you are taking him out frequently enough so he gets into a good routine. During puppyhood, dogs will absorb everything they notice going on around him and a lonely, bored puppy can result in an insecure and unhappy adult dog. If you work full time and you have recently added a puppy into the mix, then you may want to consider paying a dog sitter or friend to come over every few hours to check on them.
Crate training is recommended by dog behaviorists, as it one of the most effective ways of tacking separation anxiety in dogs. Contrary to popular belief, crate training is not just a matter of shutting your dog into a cage. If you follow the correct methods when introducing your dog to his crate, he will start seeing it as his safe place where he can go to feel comforted and secure.
Not only will he benefit from the soothing therapeutic benefits of these all-natural treats, but he will also learn to form a positive association with being left alone. Many people prefer using CBD treats over any other treatment, especially when their dog is demonstrating severe symptoms of anxiety. You can help alleviate some of the terror that a small dog feels when you leave by having a special treat they get only before you leave. This can help them get something great out of your leaving and helps make the process a little less stressful.
Just before leaving, pick up your keys and put your shoes on. Start by stepping out the door and then come back almost immediately (if they are being quiet) and reward them with a treat. You can gradually extend the length of time you leave your dog and always remember that you should never reward negative behavior (like barking, whining, etc.) or your dog will learn that that will get them attention. Stay away for a little longer each time you go out and before too long, your pup will get used to it and even learn to accept it.
Sadly, if you don’t take action to correct the symptoms of separation anxiety early on, it tends to get worse. Puppies will not just miraculously grow out of separation anxiety as they get older because it has little to do with their age. If a puppy is left on its own from day one and never learns to feel safe about being alone, then they will never be able to have a positive association with you going out. Many rescue dogs have extreme separation anxiety, due to the abandonment they have previously experienced. As our dogs are not able to speak to us and tell us what they need and how they feel, we need to step up and be responsible dog parents and do our best to ensure that we raise a well-balanced and confident dog. Due to their tiny size, puppies can’t do that much damage even if they try… but imagine what they could do once they are fully grown and suffering from a harsher degree of anxiety because you never corrected the behavior. Suddenly we are dealing with a whole different ball game!
If your dog’s behavior is demonstrating severe anxiety, which could include destructive behavior, being too anxious, house soiling, or never being calm, even if you just walk out of the room for a minute, then a trip to the vet or animal behaviorist is always a good idea. Most people, however, prefer not to give their dog any kind of toxic medications and like to take a natural approach. Not only is it better for your pet in the long run, but it can also be less expensive. For example, giving your dog a totally organic CBD treat will not only bring his anxiety levels right down, but the treats also offer a whole load of other benefits like improved health, shinier coats and pain relief. We always recommend taking a natural approach where possible and many vets now advocate and even promote the use of CBD to cure separation anxiety in dogs.
Whichever approach you decide to take, if your dog has separation anxiety, always remember that consistency is key and you won’t see a sudden improvement overnight. Stick with whichever training method you decide on and give your pet the chance to be the best dog they can possibly be.
Jennifer is the voice behind the FOMO Bones blog. She's pretty sure in her past life, she was a Great Dane. However, we peg her as more of a labrador. Regardless of her breed, she's a dog enthusiast who has 15 years experience training dogs and owners.