Calming those puppy nerves
You may think of your puppy as a best friend, so it’s probably not a surprise if they see you that way, too. So, when we leave them — even if it’s just to go to the store — they may get anxious or frightened that you’re gone. In some cases, this can even develop into separation anxiety, which is distressing for you and your pup. Here’s what you can do to help.
What does puppy separation anxiety look like?
Separation anxiety happens when a dog gets hyper-stressed when left alone. Anxiety doesn’t result in a little whining, or puppy dog eyes that may make you feel guilty when you’re getting ready to leave, but behavior that can be potentially destructive to your home or your pet’s well-being.
Separation anxiety can be caused by the first time a puppy is left alone, changing owners, moving from a shelter to a home, changes in family routine, and even the loss of a family member.
How to help your puppy
There’s no one cure-all treatment that works for every pup. But time, patience, love, repetition — and some of the do’s and don’ts we’ve provided below — can help your puppy learn to accept, and even appreciate, some alone time. After all, everyone needs a little time to themselves every once in a while.
Tips for helping separation anxiety
- Exercise your puppy before you leave the house, because a tired, happy pup is a relaxed pup.
- Make your comings and goings low-key without a lot of fuss. Try ignoring your pup for the first few minutes after you get home.
- Give your dog a treat or toy that only comes out when you’re gone, so it stays special.
- Leave out some recently-worn clothes that smell like you. Make sure they’re not favorites, because an anxious puppy may lovingly gnaw them in your absence.
- Make a big deal out of comings and goings. No elaborate emotional goodbyes when you leave, or greetings when you return.
- Leave your anxious dog at home for long periods of time. Instead, gradually increase the time away once they start to chill.
- Punish your pup if you come home to some destruction. This could only make things worse.
If you’ve tried the techniques above with no success, an additional option is to find doggie daycare or a pet sitter to help your dog get used to being away from you. It’s also possible that your dog may have an underlying medical condition causing their behavior issues. We’re here for puppy love, health, and happiness, so please reach out to your veterinary team if you suspect a medical issue or have other concerns.