This is the third in a series of posts about solving common problems with puppies. Follow the whole series by subscribing to our blog at the bottom of the page.
Separation anxiety is a unique problem to have with your dog or puppy. In every instance, the cause of the problem is the same—your dog is terrified of being left alone. However, the problem can manifest itself, and you won’t be around to witness it firsthand.
Some dog owners are tipped off by concern from a neighbor who hears the dog barking all day long, right up until his owner comes home. Other people routinely find bodily “surprises” waiting for them, even though their dog is fully trained and suffering from no medical conditions. In some cases, dogs suffering from separation anxiety can be very destructive while their owner is away.
Whatever the case, the first step is identifying the problem. Sometimes, it also helps to understand why your dog might be acting this way. Common reasons for the development of separation anxiety include a new guardian, new home, strange new people being around, or a changing schedule.
While there are anxiety medications and professional trainers who can attempt to alleviate the problem, most experts agree that you should attempt to desensitize your dog to being left alone before you try anything drastic.
First, you need to rule out the possibility that your dog is just bored and frustrated. Try tiring them out on a day-to-day basis, giving them a good amount of exercise both mentally and physically. Besides, you should probably be doing this anyway. If the bad behavior resolves itself, your dog was probably just bored and acting out.
If even a dead-tired dog continues to act up while you’re gone, you’ll need to try some alternatives. Start by being a little more discreet about coming and going. Change up your morning routine to keep your dog’s anxiety from building in the first place—trust us, you are more predictable than you might think.
Next, try completely ignoring them as you leave, and then again as you walk back in. Resist the urge to comfort them, and if that doesn’t work, ignore them for even longer. You can still show them love and affection, you just them to forget that it bookends a period of loneliness. You need to act like leaving is no big deal, and hopefully your dog will follow suit.
For more tips on dealing with common puppy problems, stick to the blog from Pauley’s Pups, a pet store serving Ashland, Hanover, and Richmond, Virginia, specializing in small and toy dog breeds.