In this guide, we will discuss Puppy Separation Anxiety, symptoms and some useful tips on how to deal with your Puppy’s anxiety.
Puppy Separation Anxiety: What is it?
Puppy separation anxiety, or just separation anxiety since it can also happen to adult dogs, is when your dog manifests extreme stress when you leave him alone until you return home.
The symptoms can vary but, generally speaking, your dog will act as if it is really terrified of being home alone.
“Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., a zoologist, and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, is known as a SA expert. In her booklet I’ll Be Home Soon, she says that although we can’t know for sure what’s in a dog’s mind, we can think of SA as the equivalent of a panic attack”, says Stephanie Gibeault MSc, CPDT from www.akc.org.
Separation anxiety can present some challenges. As the owner of a new puppy, your responsibility since the early stages of your dog is to lay the foundation for a well-adjusted, well-behaved dog.
Some of the recommendations to achieve this are Puppy training, socialization, crate training, and teaching your puppy how to enjoy being alone, among other tips.
If you’re worried that your dog has started to act anxious, you’re not alone. If you’re looking for the right bed for your little anxious doggo, here are the Best Dog Bed for Small Dogs with Anxiety.
Therefore, many of the recommendations here are things you are already doing or have done.
Separation Anxiety vs Normal Canine Behavior
Separation anxiety is considered a serious and problematic condition. It differs from the occasional mournful whimper when you leave the house or the shredded shoe waiting for you when you return home.
Also, it doesn’t translate in the usual boredom, and unlike a little mischief when your dog is left alone, separation anxiety is the result of legitimate stress.
Before determining or labeling your dog as having separation anxiety due to destroying some things or having some potty accidents, make sure it is not the result of inadequate training.
One of the best ways to see what’s really going on in your absence is to audio or videotape your dog’s behavior while you’re away.
Signs of puppy separation anxiety
There is no one defining sign of Separation anxiety, anxiety can be exhibited or manifested in different ways, meaning there are a variety of symptoms.
One or two of them, especially if they only happen occasionally, may not be a sign of puppy separation anxiety.
However, if your puppy shows multiple symptoms on a regular basis, he/she may be suffering from separation anxiety.
Here are some of the behaviors your dog may manifest according to Stephanie Gibeault MSc, CPDT from www.akc.org :
- Anxious behaviors like pacing, whining or trembling while you’re gone or as you prepare to leave.
- Excessive barking or howling.
- Destructive acts, such as chewing or digging, particularly around doors or windows.
- Accidents in the house – urinating or defecating.
- Excessive salivation, drooling or panting.
- Desperate and prolonged attempts to escape confinement, potentially ending in serious injury.
What Causes Puppy Separation Anxiety?
The causes or the why some puppies are more vulnerable or prone to developing separation anxiety are still unclear, however, experts explain that there may be several reasons such as being left alone for the first time, never previously being left alone and traumatic separation, such as would be seen in some abandoned shelter dogs or even being exposed to a traumatic situation in the absence of the owner, such as the house being robbed.
It has been suggested also that personality can play a key role, since clingy dogs can be more vulnerable or at risk than independent ones.
If you have dogs with anxiety, you can buy them dog beds, they can find small, medium, large size, as well as pillows. You can also get sprays, aromatherapy supplies, anti-anxiety shirts, and other supplements that will keep your dog calm.
Other situations that can act as triggers can involve major life changes like a sudden switch in their established routine, moving to a new house, absence of a family member due to a divorce or death, or a grown-up child going away for college.
Recently, some research has suggested that the lack of physical activity or exercise can become a probable cause.
Because there are so many potential triggers for SA, it’s essential to work on prevention and start treatment at the first sign.
Separation anxiety vs Medical problems
Incontinence Caused by Medical Problems
Incontinence is considered one of the main house soiling causes. This is a medical condition in which a dog “leaks” or voids his bladder.
Dogs that have incontinence often seem to be unaware that they have soiled and sometimes they even void urine while sleeping.
Here is a list of medical issues that can be responsible for incontinence in your dog:
- Urinary tract infection
- A weak sphincter caused by old age
- Hormone-related problems after spay surgery
- Bladder stones
- Kidney disease
- Cushing’s disease
- Neurological problems (such as dementia)
- Abnormalities of the genitalia
Before proceeding to hire a professional for behavior modification for separation anxiety, try taking your dog to the vet so he/she can rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Some medications can cause frequent urination and house soiling.
If your dog is taking any medication, make sure to contact your vet to rule out house-soiling problems are not a side effect of the medication.
Other Behavior Problems to Rule Out
Sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether a dog has separation anxiety or not. Some common behavior problems can cause similar symptoms.
Before concluding that your dog has separation anxiety, it’s important to rule out the following behavior problems:
Submissive or Excitement Urination
Some dogs tend to urinate when they are greeting, playing or even when being punished or reprimanded.
They tend to display submissive postured that can include holding their tail low and flattening their ears back against the head, among others.
Incomplete House Training
If there is an incomplete house training, your dog may occasionally urinate in the house.
This can be caused by inconsistent house training or it might have involved punishment that made him afraid to eliminate while his owner is watching or nearby.
Some dogs urinate in the house because they’re scent marking. A dog scent marks by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces.
Most male dogs and some female dogs who scent marks raise a leg to urinate.
Destructive chewing or digging is very common in many young dogs while their owners are home or when they are away.
Dogs that are left alone can get bored and will look for something to do.
Usually, this is due to a lack of mental stimulation engaging in disruptive behavior when left alone. These dogs usually don’t appear anxious.
Excessive Barking or Howling
Dogs tend to bark and howl responding to stimuli in their environment or certain triggers such as unfamiliar people or sounds.
They will tend to vocalize in the presence or absence of their owners/caretakers.
Preventing Separation Anxiety
Now that we have described what separation anxiety is if you have a new puppy in your family and you are looking to prevent these condition from developing and making sure your puppy is comfortable enough when left alone at home then, you can help him learn this by taking a little time and following these simple steps.
Start as soon as your puppy arrives home, if possible.
According to purina.com, here are some simple steps you can follow for prevention:
- Puppies like routine. Develop a schedule for your puppy, and make sure your family sticks to it.
- Practice Preventative Training.
- Always give your puppy an opportunity to go potty prior to crating him.
- Crate train your puppy. When done properly, the use of a crate is a great way to help your puppy remain calm—and out of trouble! See our guide on Crate Training your puppy for more information.
- Crate him for short periods while you are present. For example, when you are watching television, put your puppy in his crate and put the crate next to the sofa. Gradually increase the time crated. Reward quiet behavior with calm praise.
- Start leaving your puppy alone in his crate. Start with just a few minutes at a time. Gradually increase the time spent alone.
- Limit the attention he gets shortly before leaving, so it isn’t such a shock when your family does leave.
- When you let your puppy out of his crate, remain calm and keep the greetings to a minimum. You don’t want to make him excited.
- Most puppies don’t need to be crated throughout their lives, but don’t rush freedom. Typically, puppies aren’t ready to be given unsupervised freedom in your home until they are approximately a year-and-a-half or older.
- Try to make sure someone in your family is home as much as possible. Consider hiring a puppy-walker or neighbor to give your puppy a midday break while everyone is in work or school. Keeping your schedule similar on weekends can help make things easier for your puppy.
Why is this blog about puppy separation anxiety important?
If your dog is experiencing some or all of the symptoms we have described, then most likely he/she is having puppy separation anxiety.
However, remember that there are also some underlying medical conditions that need to be ruled out by a vet.
Also, if left untreated, puppy separation anxiety can transcend to adulthood and can range from mild to severe.
Try actings as soon as the first symptoms arise.
Please feel free to comment in the comments section below!
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about puppy separation anxiety
How do you stop separation anxiety in puppies?
To prevent separation anxiety in puppies it is important to establish and keep routines, practice preventative training, give your puppy the opportunity to go potty prior to crating, crate train your puppy and start gradually to leave your puppy alone in his crate.
Do puppies grow out of separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety won’t go on its own and in some cases, a cure is never experienced.
But there are many strategies you can implement to begin to ease the symptoms once they start manifesting.
How do I know if my puppy has separation anxiety?
The signs and symptoms of puppy separation anxiety can vary but some the following may indicate if your dog suffers from SA:
Anxious behaviors (e.g pacing, whining, trembling)
Excessive barking or howling
Destructive behaviors such as chewing stuff or digging (particularly around doors or windows).
Urinating or defecating around the house.
How do you stop a puppy crying when you leave the room?
To help your dog stop crying when left alone you can:
Set a reliable daily routine.
Give regular daily exercise
Leave the TV or radio on when you leave.
Give him a “food puzzle” toy.
Desensitize him to when you leave home.
Don’t make a big deal about leaving.
Don’t make a big deal when you come home.
How long does separation anxiety last in puppies?
Separation anxiety in puppies can transcend until adulthood if it is left untreated and can range from mild to severe
What we recommend for curbing Anxiety
Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety
- Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.
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- It’s Okay to be Alone: a hands-on guide to coping with separation anxiety
- Be Right Back!: How To Overcome Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety And Regain Your Freedom
- Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs
- Home alone and happy!: Essential life skills for preventing separation anxiety in dogs and puppies
- Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Discover How to Help Your Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety