Separation anxiety is a serious condition that creates high levels of stress for your puppy and often results in abnormal behaviour when left alone. Puppies may cry a little when you leave the house, but separation anxiety is usually explained by more extreme behaviours, such as: Destructive or disruptive behaviour.
They could be bored, or they may not be getting enough social interaction, physical activity or mental stimulation, which may make them act out. These problems are often lumped in with puppy separation anxiety but can be addressed with more exercise.
Separation anxiety can happen at any time in a pup's life, so as much as you can do to prevent it, the easier it will be throughout their life to be alone when you need them to be.
Dogs are a naturally social species and it's normal for them to stay close to their social group which is why they can become anxious when left alone. When a puppy is first separated from their mother and litter mates, their usual response will be to whine, whimper or bark while trying to get back to them.
Gradually increase the time you leave your puppy alone in the house to about half an hour. Depending on your puppy, this can take a few days or longer but it's important you move at their pace. If your puppy shows any sign of worry, go back to leaving them for a time period where they were last comfortable.
Unfortunately, puppies don't just grow out of separation anxiety. If you leave it untreated, it will likely just get worse, and it certainly won't get any better! However, thankfully, it's not too difficult to treat and just takes a little TLC and training.
Any major change in a dog's life can be such a triggering event. A traumatic experience to the dog could be a divorce, a terrible scary storm, a large change in schedules or loss of a loved one. There are many things that can happen that the dog perceives as scary that can lead to separation anxiety.
“In my experience, the four most common breeds of dogs that exhibit signs of separation anxiety are typically Labrador Retrievers, Chihuahuas (both mixed breeds and standards), German Shepherds and Cocker Spaniels”, says Dr.
Puppies Often Grow Out of Crying
Or they want a treat. Or they want to sit next to you on the couch. Over time, crying tends to become less frequent, since puppies usually become more independent and confident as they mature.
Separation anxiety is a common problem in dogs and is likely to become more common due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dogs with separation anxiety tend to follow their owners around the house and become more anxious just before their owner leaves and especially once they've left, often showing the following signs: Barking.
Most of the time we recommend that your pup be settled for 5 or more minutes before being let out of their crate. The most ideal scenario is that your pup cries for a bit, but settles in under 30 minutes and falls asleep.
Leaving Your Dog Alone Is Not The Answer
A common myth surrounding separation anxiety is that by somehow ignoring your dog, or by forcing them to be alone for long periods of time, they simply will get used to it, and the disruptive behavior will stop. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Expect to spend around two months working with your dog to alleviate his separation anxiety. Taking it slowly during the early stages–getting your dog comfortable at the moment of your departure–will allow the later stages of lengthening your time away to much more quickly.
Help for Canine Separation Anxiety
It will not go away on its own, and most often a complete "cure" is never experienced. But, there are many things an owner can do right away to begin to ease the symptoms. Separation Anxiety can range from minor to severe.
Leave your puppy alone in his crate or puppy playroom for at least 30 minutes to an hour each day at first. Gradually increase that length of time to up to two hours for a pup three months and younger, or up to four hours for a pup from three to six months old.
Do not ignore your puppy's whines or cries, and try to know the cause of their distress. It is important to provide puppies with the comfort they need in the first few days you bring them home, and to later give them the proper training to address any specific behavior issues or to add to their communication skills.
If your dog is whining anxiously right before you leave the house, this could indicate separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety often engage in destructive behaviors while you are gone. You can treat your dog's separation anxiety by using these desensitization and counterconditioning techniques.
Create routines and boundaries so your dog experiences low-intensity separation. Crate training is recommended as a preventative measure. In treating, start small in managing separation, like training your dog to stay in another room while you leave, and then work up to leaving the house.