Dogs are social animals, that's a huge part of why we have them in our lives. However, we live in a world where we cannot take them everywhere so pups must learn to be on their own from time to time. By teaching them it is okay to be alone, we can prevent your puppy from developing Separation Anxiety.
Separation anxiety is when a dog displays distress behavioral issues when left alone. Stress signs associated with separation anxiety include: drooling, panting, howling, barking, urinating & defecating (in an otherwise house-trained dog), whining, scratching or biting at doors or windows, and other destructive behaviors.
To help your puppy learn to be alone, the Austin Dog Trainer recommends the following tips:
1. Exercise. Before you are going to leave your pup, get some off his energy out with a game of fetch or a walk around the block.
2. Make comings and goings nonchalant. This will prevent your puppy from getting riled up when you leave and when you return.
3. Provide a puppy safe area for your pup to hang out like a crate or baby gated area. Keep this area somewhere you spend time so your pup does not see it as an isolated, lonely place.
4. Provide them something fun to do while you are gone. This is where Kong toys, bully sticks, and other food dispensing toys come into play. These will keep your pup busy and focused on something positive rather than your absence.
5. Practice leaving them for short times while you are at home. Put your puppy in his puppy safe zone with some toys or chews and leave for a few minutes, come back and toss a few pieces of kibble in his zone and leave for a few more minutes.
6. Don't reinforce whining or barking. Ignore your dog by turning your back and wait until your puppy is quiet until you let him out.
Check back next week for Puppy Problem Prevention: Part 3 – Learning Your Dog's Body Language
CPDT-KA and Animal Behavior Consultant