Seperation anxiety is a serious condition, and it goes beyond tiny whimpers and a few loud barks.
It is a behavioral issue that occurs from the time you leave your puppy alone till you return home.
Whether you are the proud owner of a puppy or an adult dog, separation anxiety can happen to your pooch at any point in his/her life.
It’s also not the same as boredom, or mischief like when your dog is left alone, separation anxiety is the result of pent-up stress.
While puppies and adult dogs can exhibit stress in many ways, there is no one defining sign of separation anxiety.
However, there are many symptoms you can look out for. If your puppy does only one or two things it could be signs, he/she needs to be professionally trained.
However, if he shows multiple symptoms on a regular basis, he/she may be suffering from separation anxiety.
Some signs to look out for are the following….
(1) Loud barking and howling
(2) Peeing and defecating in the house when alone
(3) Chewing the sides of furniture, destroying pillows, or even tearing parts of their own bedding and toys.
(4) Anxious whimpering, pacing, and trembling, when they see you are about to leave the house.
Remember separation anxiety is a bunch of these symptoms together and not just one thing.
Rather than punishing your dog for these behaviors or worse even abandoning them, understand that separation anxiety is purely behavioral and psychological and can be treated.
With effort from your side, and patience you can curb your dog’s anxiety and reassure him/her that all will be okay and that you will eventually return.
Separation anxiety is also a result of your pooch being very attached to you. The stronger the bond and time that they spend with you the harder it is for them when you leave for your personal and professional commitments.
So, in order to let him know that you are only going out of the house for a short period of time, don’t go out when he is a pup for too long periods of time, start with short bouts and then gradually increase.
Puppies need a lot of care and support when they are young, training them early and positively reinforcing them for good behaviour is the key here.
Give your dog a few special high value treats before you leave the house, so that he knows that he gets this on these specific occasions and not all the time.
Fill a Kong toy with some peanut butter or other bits of chicken jerky so that your dog will be engaged while you are away and mentally stimulated. Puzzle boxes and games can also keep them occupied for long periods of time.
Leave some clothes that smell like you on his bedding while you are away, so that it provides some sense of comfort.
Turning the TV on in a low setting and playing some music in the background really helps, as long periods of silence when you are gone can really affect your dog mentally and increase his/her anxiety.
If your dog continues to defecate in the house, and has regular peeing accidents, it could also be a hormonal or medical issue, so it is best to check with your veterinarian before ruling it out as separation anxiety.
If your dog cannot tolerate you leaving the house at all and his anxiety is really bad, it is best not to leave him completely alone when you step outside for work or other social commitments.
Limit your time outside or let him stay with a trusted family member or friend while you are away.
Some dog’s who have separation anxiety in the extremes require anti-anxiety supplements, so it’s best to speak to your veterinarian or a trusted professional dog trainer and canine behaviouralist about this before taking the next steps.