Puppy Training: How To Deal With Separation Anxiety
A new puppy in the house brings happiness and joy, but sooner or later, you will have to leave him in the home alone. This separation anxiety can cause your puppy great mental distress, so it’s very important to slowly acclimate your new friend to the facts of life. Animals display a full range of emotions, and unlike dealing with a human, we cannot reason with them through language. Leaving a new puppy on his own may render him with a hopeless sense of abandonment, creating fear and mistrust, so be sure to take the necessary steps to introduce him slowly to his independence.
1. Begin with a short-term separation period of thirty to sixty minutes. Although this may seem like a blink of an eye for us, to a puppy, this time frame is enormous. Speak with a reassuring tone and lock him in the house alone for under one hour. When he gets the idea that you are always coming back, stretch the separation time until he can relax. Work schedules and emergencies may warrant your departure for eight hours or more, and you need to make sure the puppy has taken all the baby steps to reach this goal.
2. The new puppy gains confidence when he hears the sounds of human voices. For your initial short-term separations, leave the radio or television on to keep him company. Media sounds are no substitute for the one he loves, but the voices provide a distraction from his loneliness.
3. To deflect away from his morose attitude, be sure to keep his favorite toys and snacks within his reach. Creating his own activities with a ball or chew toy does wonders to calm and quiet a frightened puppy and he may bide his time on his own terms until you come home.
4. Reinforce to your puppy that when you have to leave, it’s no big deal. If you play up the situation with a highly strung tone to your voice, the puppy gets the idea that leaving him is a bad thing. Rather, he must learn that people have things to do and places to go that don’t include him and that you shall return before his next meal. Greet him warmly when you open the door, but if you play the drama queen every time, the separation anxiety may become worse.
5. If you must leave your puppy after dark, be sure to leave a small light on or plug in a night light. The dim room may encourage him to nap, but total darkness can be stressful for a baby pooch. One room with one light is sufficient to keep him calm until you arrive home.