Separation anxiety in dogs can be a frustrating and stressful dilemma. When dogs are by themselves, they sometimes enter into panic modes that trigger all sorts of undesirable behaviors, from chewing up your favorite throw pillow to leaving conspicuous scratching marks all over your kitchen floor -- no, thanks.
Being a puppy is all about newness and dramatic changes, from getting used to owners and fellow household pets to simply adapting to the interiors of homes, what with all of their many nooks and crannies. All of it can be extremely overwhelming to the little guys, and as a result can often bring upon separation anxiety. Separation anxiety -- and all of its associated behaviors -- are particularly prevalent in puppies.
If your puppy seems to experience intense feelings of stress and loneliness while no one is home, he probably has a classic case of separation anxiety. He might react to his feelings of frustration by urinating or passing stools within his crate, if you're crate training him. He also could do these things elsewhere in your home. He might be especially noisy, causing even people across the street to hear all of his wailing and barking commotion. He might even desperately nibble on the sides of your front door -- an attempt to get to you, perhaps. All of these behaviors point to a cutie who feels anything but calm when he doesn't see or hear you.
Leaving the television on while you're away can sometimes be beneficial for lonely and angst-ridden puppies, serving as a soothing device. Although some owners opt to keep the radio on for their pets, television often works better because of the extra visual benefit. In keeping your puppy simultaneously occupied and relaxed, he might become more at ease and used to the concept of staying home alone all by himself -- as a true "big boy."
Puppies often are fearful simply because they're alone, but that can be exacerbated by frightening outside sounds, whether street traffic, pouring rain or even the neighbors congregating outdoors. If you leave the television on for your puppy, you can often minimize the intrusion of these other sounds, soothing your anxious pooch as a result.
Apart from leaving your television on, you can also try to nip your puppy's separation anxiety in the bud in several other ways. Firstly, you can behave as composed, cool and "no big deal" about your departures as possible. The bigger production you make of something, the more nervous and confused your puppy might feel. Secondly, make sure the little guy has plenty of stimulating toys to provide him entertainment -- and mental enrichment -- while you're away. Thirdly, avoid reinforcing panicky canine behavior. Instead, reinforce good behavior. If you come home to see your puppy behaving in a relaxed manner -- with no signs of destruction -- give him a tasty treat "prize" then.
- DogChannel.com: Destructive Behavior in Dogs
- Humane Society of Broward County: Separation Anxiety
- DogChannel.com: How to Manage Dog Separation Anxiety
- Abbey Vet Centre: Separation Anxiety in Dogs
- Animal Humane Society: Preventing Separation Anxiety in Puppies
- American Humane Association: Separation Anxiety
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images