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Puppy Behavior: That Doggone Separation Anxiety 
 
by Mary M. Alward June 03, 2005

Does your puppy suffer from separation anxiety? This article will explain what separation anxiety is and what to do to make your puppy feel safe and secure when you have to leave him alone.

What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is defined as a puppy or dog’s exaggerated fear of being separated from its leader. This causes your puppy great distress and it happens every time you leave the house.

It is easy to spot the signs of separation anxiety, which can be barking, howling, whining, chewing, destroying things, eliminating or defecating in the house, or scratching feverishly at the door. Depending on how anxious your puppy is, separation anxiety could include on or all of these symptoms.

Dogs are pack animals and when a puppy comes into your house, the humans who live there become his pack. Your puppy wants to be with the pack as much as possible. It is up to you to teach him to stay alone and to remain calm while doing so.

What to do?

A great way to help your puppy overcome his fears is to introduce him to a crate. Put it somewhere that he will be comfortable entering and exiting it. Leave the door open and let him explore his safe place. You will find that he’ll soon start using the crate when he’s feeling insecure or vulnerable.

In the beginning, crate your puppy for a few minutes while you remain in the room. Sit where he can see you and read a book or watch TV. If he remains calm, let him out of the crate, praise him and give him a small treat. This could be a small piece of cheese or apple. Give him something that he enjoys and that is nutritious.

Gradually increase the time that he is in the crate to about ten minutes. The next time you put him in the crate, stay with him for a few minutes, and then leave the room for a minute or so. Come back and stay with him for two to three minutes and leave the room again. This time stay a minute and a half. Gradually increase the time you are out of the room. When your puppy remains calm, release him, pet him and give him a small treat, then spend a little time playing with him. He will soon get the message that if he remains calm, he gets a treat and some praise. If he whines, cries, howls or barks, he gets nothing. Never rush to let him out of the crate. Allow him to stay there until he becomes calm.

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