How to Deal with Puppy Separation Anxiety

March 30, 2022 3 min read

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Separation anxiety is distressing for both you and your dog, and more puppies than ever are experiencing separation anxiety. In this guide, we’ll offer some pointers to help you determine if your dog is experiencing separation anxiety or just being a puppy. Then, we will offer some suggestions to help you start improving your dog’s separation anxiety.

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Signs That Your Puppy Might Have Separation Anxiety

The key to figuring out whether or not your puppy has separation anxiety is looking for trends over time and whether or not those behaviors are associated with their parents’ absence. All puppies usually exhibit a little bit of this behavior when they are young and still maturing, but they often do it when their humans are around and usually grow out of it as they age. Dogs with separation anxiety will specifically engage in these behaviors when separated from their owners and will usually not grow out of them as they get older. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Your dog may cry, bark, whine, howl, and otherwise vocalize their feelings when you are gone. They may also pace constantly when left alone. There are usually no other triggers except for the absence of their human.
  • Your puppy may follow you around wherever you go, especially after you return after being gone. They often want to be picked up, held constantly, sit in your lap, and otherwise maintain physical contact with you 24/7.
  • Your puppy may urinate and defecate in the house when left alone. If it’s separation anxiety and not a regular house training mishap, it will happen only when you are gone — not when you are around.
  • Many dogs engage in destructive behavior when their owner is gone or they are shut up in a room alone. This can include chewing on furniture, jumping on door frames or window sills, trying to tunnel out of the room, and breaking household objects like lamps.
  • On a related note, your puppy may try to stage an escape when left alone in order to be reunited with you. This usually involves trying to dig under a door or get through a window.

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How to Deal with Puppy Separation Anxiety

If you think that your dog has separation anxiety, there are many steps you can take to help them manage it. The first is to create a positive distraction for your dog when you have to leave. Give them a puzzle toy, dog chew, or bully stick that will keep them occupied for a long time so they will have something to focus on besides their anxiety.

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You can help desensitize your dog to departure cues by changing your clothes, applying makeup, putting on your shoes, or grabbing your keys — and then staying at the house instead of going out. Over time, this will teach your dog that these actions are not necessarily linked to you leaving them, which will help them stay calm as you get ready to go.

Whenever you leave or come back, don’t make a big deal out of it by greeting your dog loudly, calling them over, and otherwise making a fuss. Instead, quietly let yourself in and out of the house without fanfare. This will teach your dog that your leave-taking is not something they need to pay much attention to or worry about.

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You can acclimate your dog to longer absences by starting with short ones, as brief as a few seconds. Have your dog sit and stay in one room and then grab your bag and keys and go to another room where they cannot see you. Have them wait for a few seconds and then call them to you. Once they are comfortable with this, you can move to an exit door and step outside for a few seconds and then come back inside.

Over weeks of training, you will be able to slowly increase the time that you leave your dog inside until they are able to tolerate longer absences. Always watch for signs of stress and don’t increase the time interval until your dog is 100 percent comfortable and ready to move on.

Ready to get healthy, long-lasting treats for your dog? At Best Bully Sticks, we offer a wide selection of delicious snacks for your dog, from treats for puppies to dental treats for dogs.

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