5 Tips to help with Puppy Separation Anxiety
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A lot of my friends in the blogging community have recently gotten puppies or are planning to get a puppy in the next few months. I’m so excited for them! This week we celebrated Rosie’s 1 year adoption anniversary! My timehop has been filled with the first photos I took of her after we brought her home and gave her a bath. She was such a chunky little girl!
Rosie pup is helping out on the blog today to assist me in giving some pointers to anyone who might have a puppy or dog that suffers from puppy separation anxiety. Yes, it is a real thing for dogs to have separation anxiety and it can be really bad. We brought Rosie home when she was 10 weeks old and she had never been away from her mom before. We naively thought we could get up the next day, leave her in her kennel and go to work. We were so wrong. Not only did Rosie bark/wail/howl/cry for hours on end, she dug at her kennel, chewed on the bars and slammed herself around, desperate to get out and find us. She had a terrible case of puppy separation anxiety. In fact, for the first few weeks, I couldn’t even shower with the shower curtain closed without her having a complete meltdown.
I’m not going to lie; it was rough. I cried every day for two weeks because I felt so terrible about leaving her, I felt like I had gotten in way over my head with training a new puppy and I felt like we had made a big mistake. Thankfully, Dustin never let me give up and stood firm and supportive as we worked hard to help Rosie get over her issues.
1. Special “going away” treat:
We started to give Rosie a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese every time we got ready to leave her. Peanut butter is super good for dogs and Rosie goes CRAZY for it. The key to this is that Rosie only gets her Kong when we leave. It makes us leaving totally exciting because she gets her special treat. **bonus tip- freeze the kong the night before to make the treat last longer
2. Invest in a Thundershirt:I know, it seems so ridiculous, right? I mean, a shirt that essentially is for swaddling your puppy? What the heck? That’s what I thought, too. Until we were so desperate, we were ready to try just about anything. And let me tell you; Rosie’s Thundershirt was a game changer. The Thundershirt is a jacket that has several layers of material that Velcro together, creating a super snug fit that gives your pup the feeling of being held. When Rosie has her Thundershirt on, she is calm, cool and collected. We also have her wear it random times during the day so that she doesn’t associate it with us leaving.
3. Practice leaving and coming back:
I used to walk outside the door, wait a few minutes and then come back in. Rosie would be super excited to see me and got less anxious because she expected me to come back in a few minutes. It was like playing hide n’ seek for her. I eventually wait longer and longer between coming back in; sometimes I would walk to the mailbox and come back. She slowly realized that I would come back, no matter how long I was gone for!
4. Leave the TV playing:
When we first started leaving Rosie at home, she would be in her crate. She’s since gained our trust and is allowed to roam free when we are gone, but she stayed in her crate with her Kong for the first six months. We realized that if we left the TV running while we were getting ready to leave, she could still hear voices and had no clue that we actually left. We would leave Hulu running on a cooking show and sneak out quietly and she wouldn’t make a peep.
5. Pick up your keys and walk around with them, even if you aren’t going anywhere.
The same goes for putting your shoes and coat on. Rosie is so smart and immediately knows we’re about to leave the second she hears the keys jingle. So, I’ve taken to randomly picking them up while doing the laundry, or the dishes. She also picks up on putting on shoes or the zippering of a coat. All of these are signs to her that I’m getting ready to go; and she immediately starts getting clingy and will even try to make a bolt for the door when I open it. By doing all of those things and then not leaving, she slowly has become desensitized to those triggers!
After working on all of these things and being as patient as possible, Rosie now can handle being left alone. Does she prefer it? Of course not. But does she howl, cry, tear up things, or injure herself? Not at all. I’m so proud of my golden girl and how big and brave she is!
Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention for separation anxiety? Does your dog deal with it?