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Dog Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety in dogs is a common issue where dogs become anxious when they are separated from their owners or left alone.

dog giving puppy eyes and shaking paw
Sometimes the dog trains the human without the human even knowing it.

I would like to discuss the origin of separation anxiety first so that people can understand how it begins. It is not a genetic malady, it is a behavioral malady that is a learned behavior that originates with human beings, who are called breeders.

Proper etiquette/practice for raising puppies begins with breeders. At (5) five weeks old, the mother no longer wants to feed her offspring due to the pain the mother suffers from the pup's nails and teeth, which are very sharp on her nipples. Most dog breeders are lazy and will put down one bowl of food for the pups. Puppies should be fed separately to monitor how much they are eating.

Proper etiquette is from week 5 to week 6, the breeder should separate a litter of eight pups into 4 pups + 4 pups. Then during weeks 6 to 7, the breeder should separate the pups into mini-packs of 2. Then, when week 7 arrives, the final week going forward to week 8, when the puppies are legally marketable, the breeder should separate the pups to being by themselves so they learn individuality and not codependency. This is where separation anxiety most often forms, with lazy breeders.

Here are a few tips to help manage dog separation anxiety:

  1. Gradual desensitization: Start by leaving your dog alone for short periods of time and gradually increase the duration over time. This helps them get used to being alone without getting anxious. Yes, the puppy is going to cry and scream. Put the puppy in a crate by the exit door which will assist with proper housebreaking- when the pup awakens from a nap, they have to pee immediately. Do not, give in to their crying or you will be defeated, and the puppy will quickly learn that it can manipulate you and get what it wants.

  2. Create a safe space: Designate a specific area in your home where your dog can feel safe and comfortable when you're not around. This could be a crate, a specific room, or an area with their bed and toys. It should be out of sight of the humans. Never put them in your bedroom. I know this may be hard as humans also experience separation anxiety.

  3. Tiredness: Ensure your dog gets enough physical exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day. A tired dog is less likely to experience anxiety when left alone.

  4. Positive reinforcement: Reward your dog's calm and relaxed behavior when they are alone by providing treats or toys. This helps reinforce positive associations with being alone. Edible treats can be counterproductive as the longevity of treats is minimal, and the pup will quickly manipulate the human by crying and screaming to get more treats thereby training the human without the human realizing the puppy is training him or her. This is very common. Remember, pups are teething and they must chew. Rope toys and hard rubber toys are sufficient.

  5. Counter-conditioning: Associate your departure cues, such as grabbing keys or putting on shoes, with positive experiences for your dog. For example, give them a special treat or a toy only when you're about to leave.

  6. Seek professional help: If the anxiety persists or is severe, consider consulting with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist who specializes in behavioral issues. They can provide guidance and suggest specific techniques or medications if needed.

Remember, every dog is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Be patient, consistent, and understanding as you work towards helping your dog overcome separation anxiety. People can be as needy as a puppy, so remember that pups are masters of manipulation the same as young infants, so don’t give in. It takes a lot of patience. From 8 weeks until they are 5 months, your puppy is your responsibility, not a dog trainer. This is an important time wherein you develop a relationship with your puppy. Your puppy learns your breathing patterns, your facial expressions, and your body language.


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