Dog Separation Anxiety Prevention
Separation anxiety in dogs is a condition where a dog exhibits distress when left alone. It is estimated that 20-40% of dogs seen by animal behavior practices in North America suffer from separation anxiety. Most dogs with separation anxiety start to show distress when their owners start their departure routine. A dog can go into a full-blown panic, be destructive to themselves, or to the things around them. They may eliminate, eat walls, shake, drool, or even jump through windows.
It is essential to teach your puppy how to cope with being left alone. Already, your puppy probably can predict when it is dinner time, time to go outside, or when you are about to leave. If you stop to think about it, you usually perform certain sequences of events prior to these activities, and you can take action now to help prevent separation anxiety.
If you are continually varying your routine, your puppy will not be able to anticipate your comings and goings. We have heard numerous times, “dogs love a routine,” but some dogs are not able to handle it if a routine is broken.
Quiet Comings and Goings
It is important that when you come home, and leave for the day, you are not overly excited about greeting your puppy. If you make a big deal about your coming and going, your puppy will begin to think that it must be traumatic to be left alone. A simple, but warm hello and good-bye with a scratch and smile is best.
Vary Your Daily Routine
Change the time you get up in the morning, change the sequence of your morning routine, even if it is only by fifteen minutes.
Spending Time Alone
One of the toughest things for new puppy parents is to allow their puppy time to rest in their crate or another out-of-sight spot when they are home. But allowing your puppy quiet time alone will help him learn that it is okay if he is not by your side all the time. Review Zen Crate Training Exercises for details and practice alone time two to three times a day.
Exercise and Human Play
A tired puppy is a good puppy that is ready for naps and rest. Proper exercise can positively affect your puppy’s mood and behavior. Exercise before your departures can be helpful, but it is important that the exercise is low-impact and you allow your puppy a cool-down period before leaving. If not, you may get the opposite result and have a more energetic puppy when you leave.
- This is an excerpt from my book Proactive Puppy Care: Preventing Puppy Problems
- If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, check out my book Please Stay: Help for a Dog with Separation Anxiety
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