10 Separation Anxiety Solutions To Calm Your New Puppy
Written by Adaptil, published on April 18, 2023
Having a new puppy is an exciting time for both of you! As you get to know your new best friend, it's no surprise that they will love to be around you, at playtime, mealtimes, nap times and everything in between!
But all puppies need to learn how to be home alone and cope well when you are not in the room, sleep in a different room at night - or pop out in the day.
It's only natural that your puppy may find it hard to adjust to time alone at first. From birth they have been used to being with their siblings in the litter, and with their mother. So it might be difficult for them to adapt to being alone, at least at first!
10 Separation Anxiety Solutions to Calm your New Puppy
It's important that you lay down the ground rules as soon as you bring your puppy home. This may be difficult for you both but it will help to set the rules, and reassure your pet as they will do what to expect. The tips below will help you to teach your puppy that it's OK to spend time by themselves without worrying - and that you will return!
- Make sure that your whole family obeys the rules! It would be counterproductive if you try to train your pooch to do one thing, and they don't do the same!
- Start with some simple commands, like 'stay' and 'sit' - and remember to always reward them and make a fuss of them when they obey.
- Don't expect them to obey immediately, but take the training at a pace your puppy is comfortable with. Repetition is key.
- Once your pooch can 'stay' or 'sit' on command, leave the room for a short period of time and very slowly build up your puppy's time alone.
- If they show signs of anxiety, try putting a baby gate across a doorway so they can still see you, but at a distance.
- If your puppy has a crate, you can also try leaving them in the crate for a short time, but ensure they have comfy bedding and lots of toys to distract them and keep them occupied.
- Once you think they are settling behind a gate or in their crate, try closing the door so that the puppy can't see you. Again, do this for short periods of time, making the time longer when you feel they are settled. Always reward your pup for staying alone and they will associate your return with a treat and be keen to repeat it!
- Do this training at different times of the day, over a number of days, so that they do not associate being left alone with a particular time of day. Remember dogs are creatures of habit, but you also want them to be flexible and fit in with your day - not the other way round, so mixing it up a bit will help them to accept being alone at any time.
- When you think your puppy is comfortable being alone with you in another room, you can then try and spend a short period of time out of the house, leaving them behind.
- Remember, dogs are smart! They can associate different noises, actions or times of the day with their daily routine. For example, pick up their lead and they know it's time for a walk! In the same way, they might even associate you picking up your car keys or your bag with the fact that you are going out and leaving them behind - which might make them anxious. If you notice any signs of anxiety when you do this, try a false departure a few times - by picking up your keys, putting them in your pocket but go nowhere! This will help to disassociate your keys with leaving the house.
Don't Make a Fuss but Keep your Puppy Calm
Your puppy needs to know that you will be coming and going freely, so don't make a fuss of your pooch when you are about to leave them alone, or when you return. There's no need for fond farewells or 'welcome home' hugs and kisses - this could only increase your puppy's anxiety levels.
When you leave, firstly make sure they go outside to relieve themselves; then, give them an appropriate toy to keep them occupied while you are out, and leave the TV or radio playing to keep the surroundings as normal as it would be if you are at home. Take a look at our Calming Music for Dogs Playlist on YouTube for 15 hours of relaxing sounds.
When you return, they will of course be pleased to see you and will probably welcome you home with open paws - but again, try to avoid too much of a fuss. Keep your return as uneventful as possible so that they associate your coming and going as part of a normal day.
ADAPTIL Junior helps to comfort puppies and supports them as they learn to be alone. ADAPTIL Junior is clinically proven, veterinary used and recommended.
Take a look at these 7 top tips to stop a puppy barking when left alone.
If you are concerned that your puppy cannot cope with time on their own, and their separation anxiety is not improving, you may need to seek professional help from a behaviourist but you might also want to get them checked out by a vet to ensure there is no underlying health issues you are not aware of.
Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.
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