It’s Common For New Puppies
It’s normal for a puppy to miss his mom and litter mates the first day he is in his new home. He may also miss the many familiar sights, smells and sounds of his former home. The puppy may feel worst at night when everything is quiet and he’s closed in a crate in an unfamiliar place without the reassuring presence of his siblings and mother.
Most likely the puppy will whine, bark and paw at the crate. It’s not a bad idea to have the puppy sleep in its crate next to the owner’s bed the first few nights so the owner can reassure the new pup as needed. Adding a few water bottles filled with warm water and wrapped in a blanket can help mimic the warmth of mother dog. Some dog owners also add a stuffed toy and a ticking clock to mimic mother dog’s heartbeat. Breeders may recommend using DAP diffusers to ease the transition. As the puppy then gets accustomed to his new surroundings, these additionally items can be removed and the crate can be gradually moved farther away from the owner’s bed.
Separation anxiety begins immediately as soon as you leave your puppy alone. It is different from just plain boredom which manifest after a hour or two. The common symptoms of separation anxiety includes:
- Urinating and Defecating Inappropriately
- Whining, Barking and Howling
- Destroying Objects
- Depression or Aggressiveness
Prevention and Treatment
Often puppy separation anxiety puts roots because dog owners inadvertently reward anxious behaviors. For instance, when the puppy is closed in the crate and whining, dog owners may often feel compelled to rush to the crying puppy to open the crate. By doing so, dog owners fail to realize that they’re rewarding the anxiety or attention-seeking behavior. Of course, it’s always important to rule out whining because of a physiological need such as thirst, hunger, cold or a need to be taken out to potty.
Calm behaviors can be rewarded by opening the crate only once the puppy is quiet. The puppy soon learns that his quiet behavior causes his dog owner to open the crate; whereas, his boisterous barking makes his owner leave. This exercise can’t be practiced enough. When the puppy is quiet, the owner comes closer, when the puppy barks, the owner steps back. When no more barking takes place, the owner finally approaches and opens the crate. Should the barking continue, the owner steps bark, and if the puppy fails to stop barking, the owner leaves the room patiently waiting for the puppy to be quiet again.
Encouraging Puppy Independence
It’s always a good idea to teach the puppy that good things happen when he must be crated or left alone. Teaching the puppy to eat his meal alone in the crate or giving a stuffed Kong to enjoy in a room without the owner in sight is a good idea. Once the puppy is done, the dog owner can then open the crate or let the puppy out of the room. Desensitization to pre-departure cues and absences should be practiced gradually in a controlled setting. At first, the puppy should be left alone with a food item for no longer than a few seconds. After ward, the owner may practice for a minute or two, and then for increasingly longer periods of time utilizing longer-lasting treats.
Luckily, puppy whining when the owner leaves the room is a rather short-lived phase if the dog owner is diligent in practicing the above exercises. Failure to work on the issue may lead to a clingy puppy who doesn’t learn self control and becomes anxious when left alone. Even if the pup doesn’t become anxious, he may learn that pushy, attention-seeking behaviors get the owner springing into action, ready to take care of his whims.
According to behavior consultant Aidan Bindoff, separation anxiety may be the second most over-diagnosed behavior problem in dogs right after dominance. Often, what looks like separation anxiety in reality is just boredom, lack of exercise or just plain puppy play. Real separation anxiety in puppies and dogs manifests in distress and a complete state of panic. It’s best to record the puppy’s behavior upon being left alone and having a professional take a look so to figure out if it’s actually separation anxiety or something else. After all, it does no good trying to implement behavior modification for separation anxiety when that’s not really the problem.