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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Taking The Anxiety Out Of Separation

Taking the Anxiety Out of Separation


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As social animals, it's normal for puppies to form attachments to their pet parent. Attachment implies a trusting relationship and is the foundation of a good, healthy bond between pet and Pet Parent. However, when a dog becomes overly dependent on its pet parent, problem behaviors may result.

Causes of separation anxiety in dogs include early separation from the mom, deprivation of attachment early in life, sudden environment changes and the addition of a new family member. Behaviors associated with separation anxiety occur shortly after departure and include:

  • Defecation and urination in inappropriate locations
  • Destructive behavior
  • Excessive barking and whining
  • Depression
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Hyperactivity

Note: these behaviors may also be the symptoms of other problems. Always consult your veterinarian to ensure there are no underlying medical problems.

To help your puppy be more relaxed when left alone, consider the following tips:

Work on Departures
Start with leaving your puppy alone for a short amount of time and gradually work up the amount of time he is left alone. As he becomes accustomed to being alone, you can leave him alone for longer periods.

Keep Exits and Returns Low-key
Your departures and homecomings should be kept calm, matter-of-fact and unemotional.

Exercise Your Puppy Before Departures
To lessen some of the natural energy your puppy has stored up, ensure he gets plenty of physical exercise before leaving him alone.

Don't Crate the Issue
Crating doesn't solve a separation anxiety problem, and may worsen it if your puppy learns that every time he is put in his crate, you are going to leave him. To minimize crate-induced separation anxiety, get your puppy comfortable with his crate when you're at home by putting your puppy in the crate for a nap or a short rest several times a day. Until you have the problem resolved, arrange for someone to be with your dog during times when you're away or consider day boarding.

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