Welcome to the ultimate guide on saving your adorable little puppy from the horrors of separation anxiety! Those soulful eyes and wagging tail can mask a potential nightmare for both you and your furry companion. Fear not, for I have 14 foolproof strategies that will help your puppy avoid and overcome this dreaded condition.
Understanding the Roots: Genetic Predispositions and Traumatic Experiences
Just like us, some dogs are genetically predisposed to separation anxiety. Understanding your puppy's unique traits and tendencies is crucial, as some dogs are more susceptible to this issue. Additionally, traumatic experiences, such as early separation from their mother and siblings or abandonment, can leave lasting emotional scars that trigger anxiety.
Helping Your Puppy Avoid Separation Anxiety:
Set a regular but not rigid routine:
Consistency in your puppy's daily schedule provides comfort and predictability, reducing the
likelihood of anxiety. Vary walks and playtime by 20-30 mins sometimes, so your puppy stays
Crate train your puppy gradually:
Investing a little time upfront and rewarding your puppy for going into their crate will help them
enjoy spending time in it. Gradually increase the time they spend with the door closed, as they
are comfortable and still getting rewarded every so often with treats or chews. If they do
not take to a crate after that, then you will know you did everything you could to make the
crate work and can move on to other confinement options that may help your dog settle, such
as exercise pens or baby gates.
Potty train your puppy:
A potty-trained puppy can be given more space as they grow up, which will decrease
frustration and anxiety and allow you to differentiate between whether house soiling is
occurring due to unfinished house training or panic.
Puppy-proof your house:
Remove any potential hazards so your puppy doesn’t learn the habit of chewing the wrong
things. This way you will have more options later if they do not take well to a crate.
Provide regular exercise and enrichment:
A tired and mentally stimulated puppy is a happy puppy, less prone to FOMO, able to better
relax, and one who enjoys chewing on approved toys and chews, rather than your house.
Treat any physical or mental discomfort:
Pain or fear can be associated with being alone, when you are no longer there to distract
them, so promptly address any health or fear issues.
Practice regular and gradual alone time:
Encourage your puppy to self-soothe and build up their alone-time tolerance gradually.
Put on their gear first.
Puppies usually can’t wait to go with us, so let them know if they are coming or not, by putting
on their gear first, if they are coming. This will decrease frustration and let them know it’s time
to settle because you’re leaving without them.
Treating Your Puppy's Separation Anxiety:
Ramp-up exercise and enrichment:
Again, it’s so important to burn off all that energy with extra sniff walks, runs, and mentally stimulating activities. Dog daycare can be an important part of recovery!
Signal to your puppy when you’re leaving and returning:
Put a big sign on the door, so your puppy can see it, and take it down when you return. This
helps them not be constantly anxious wondering when you might leave.
Treat any physical pain or other fears:
Addressing even minor physical issues can help ease anxiety and prevent it from getting
associated with being alone! Fears like noise sensitivity often intensify separation anxiety.
Switch out your crate for more space:
Small spaces tend to make dogs with separation anxiety feel like they have less choice and
control over their lives, and so intensify frustrated and anxious behavior. Once your puppy is
potty trained, switch out your crate for an exercise pen or baby gates, and try not to leave
them alone in a crate until they are house-trained.
Teach your puppy to settle and gradually increase time alone as they are
comfortably tolerating it:
Practice teaching your puppy to settle on their own next to, but not on top of you. Then,
gradually take a few steps toward the door, and then return to sit next to them, being present
but passive in your attention. When you are training, it is not the time to give tons of puppy
love, but to ignore them so they learn to go lie down or occupy themselves. Build gradually to
leave the house and be out for increasing periods of time, as they are comfortable. If you need
help, contact a trainer or behaviorist who specializes in this!
Don’t let your puppy panic when alone:
As you are getting your puppy used to being alone, it is important to find alternative solutions
to let them cry it out. Twenty minutes of departure training cannot negate 4-6 hours of
panic and frustration! Look for pet sitters, or dog daycare, or talk to your vet about anti-anxiety
supplements or medications.
Congratulations, you've unlocked the secrets to combat puppy separation anxiety! Early
intervention with these 14 life-saving strategies can transform this challenge into a temporary
hurdle. Your dedication and love will pave the way to a happy, well-adjusted, and confident
If you ever need more guidance on this journey, don't hesitate to reach out. As an expert trainer, I'm here to be your faithful companion, mentor, and cheerleader throughout this transformational process. Your puppy's peace of mind and your joy-filled bond are within reach. We can embark on this adventure hand-in-paw, and conquer separation anxiety together!