Avoiding separation anxiety.

(14 Posts)
maneandfeathers Sat 25-Apr-20 19:33:25

Those of you who have puppies who do not have a separation anxiety.

How did you train them to be left alone?
Which methods worked best, crate/spare room/something else?
Did you do any other training to prepare puppy for being left by themselves?

Obviously with lockdown there are going to be many puppies left alone in a few months who are used to being around people.

Is there a way to train puppies to be alone when they are not actually alone blush

OP’s posts: |
MrsMonicaBing Sat 25-Apr-20 19:53:08

Hello!
I got my pup used to sleeping alone from day 1. I never let him sleep with me upstairs or in the bedroom. I think the mistake people often make is letting their dog follow them everywhere around the house, and then when it's time to leave the house the dog doesn't understand why you have gone behind the door and he can't hear/ smell you anymore, and he can get anxious. It's good to teach them to stay put in their bed / crate while you potter around the house, so they aren't used to having to be glued to your side constantly. It helps if you mentally stimulate them through games, training etc, make sure they are really tired out before you start training them to do this. It's much easier when your pup is very tired as they just don't have the energy to keep persisting in following you around! I never used a crate, but I taught my dog to get into his basket, and to stay. It obviously takes perseverance and hard work, but it's definitely worth it. Of course I let him follow me around sometimes, and he is very much part of the family, but I also wanted him to be able to spend a couple of hours alone.

Are you able to go out for your daily exercise? Or you could practice leaving him in the house while you go into the garden for short periods? I also think rewarding the behaviour you do like works a charm. If he stays in a room without crying, even just for one minute, give him lots of praise. You can build it up in baby steps as he starts to get used to it.

What breed of dog is it? I definitely think it's best to start the training sooner rather than later as separation anxiety can be really hard to overcome 😊

Wolfiefan Sat 25-Apr-20 19:55:29

You don’t cause separation anxiety by not leaving a tiny puppy. Dog training advice and support have great files on this.

maneandfeathers Sun 26-Apr-20 06:47:56

Thanks to both of you.
We are planning a crate and kongs etc while we are home. We have gardens and plenty of space to separate the dog for an hour or two but still in hearing distance.

My current dogs have 0 issues. One of them prefers being alone and takes herself to bed if it’s too much grin

Where would I find those resources Wolfie?

I’m a bit gutted about training classes being cancelled as that’s where I usually bounce ideas around!

OP’s posts: |
Wolfiefan Sun 26-Apr-20 07:08:28

I’m so stupid! They are a FB group. Sorry. I meant to say that. They are run by behaviourists and force free dog trainers. Some great advice there.

Booboostwo Sun 26-Apr-20 07:20:43

Separation anxiety is a poorly understood condition but it probably, in many cases, has a strong genetic component. So the best thing is to start with a responsible breeder who does not breed from dogs with separation anxiety.

As far as we know separation anxiety is NOT caused by being with the puppy all the time so the rumor that has been doing the rounds that lockdown will cause puppies to develop separation anxiety is nonsense.

For puppies with no signs of separation anxiety just follow the normal advice as you would at any other time, e.g. stay with the puppy when it is young, for some puppies this may mean sleeping next to them and not leaving them alone for a few weeks. As the puppy becomes more confident, and this has to be judged on a case by case basis, start leaving them for a few minutes by stepping into another room and build up from there. It is best to be nearby so that you can go by at the first signs of distress. Try to avoid situations where the puppy is left to become distressed. A crate can be a reassuring place to relax in and may help the process.

For any puppy showing signs of separation anxiety it is best to get professional help ASAP.

vanillandhoney Sun 26-Apr-20 08:49:29

Separation anxiety in puppies is rarely ever something caused by the owners. Some dogs just have it, others don't. It's very misunderstood and posts saying "get your puppy used to being left from day one" are clearly from people who've never had to deal with true separation anxiety grin

Mine had very bad separation anxiety as a puppy. I couldn't go out of his eyesight without him howling and crying for me. Leaving him for longer periods just made him more and more distressed, no matter how many times we tried it. Kongs, treats - none of it mattered because if we weren't in the room, he wasn't interested. Even if we tired him out beforehand, he would whimper and cry. I couldn't even go for a shower when I was home alone for the first six months of his life - I had to wait for DH to get back because his anxiety was so bad he made himself sick.

It was really, really hard. He's two now and thankfully he seems to have grown out of it. Whether it's because he's older and more secure/confident I have no idea. We haven't done anything specific but he seems to be a lot happier on his own. We actually found out he was okay by accident - my in-laws have him through the day when we're working and they had to go out to the doctors and leave him. He was left for 2 hours and when they came back the house was intact and he was fast asleep on the sofa grin

Since then I've left him several times while popping to the shops and he' been absolutely fine. Maybe 15-20 seconds of barking when I shut the door but then he settles just fine. I leave a camera so I can check on him and he just sleeps or mooches around the house. No destruction, no barking/whining and no signs of distress.

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Wolfiefan Sun 26-Apr-20 10:55:52

My first is like vanilla describes. She once ate through a wall when I went into the next room to have a wee. shock
My new puppy is very independent and happy to potter about without us.

Pastelcha Sun 26-Apr-20 11:14:31

Booboostwo that’s interesting and reassuring to read. Our pup is 9 months old, always been great to be left alone, we were able to leave him for 3 hours at a time, leave him alone in a room while we went to another part of the house etc. Since lockdown he’s started pining and howling if he’s in the living room and we go upstairs without him. Also scratching at the kitchen door if we’ve left him in there to do the food shop. I’ve been filming him while we’ve been gone and the most he’s scratched and cried has been 15 minutes then he settles. I’ve been very worried that he’s developing separation anxiety and that when we go back to work we’ll have massive problems (he’s left for 3 hours 3 times a week so not for long but obviously that’s too long if he’s distressed). Do you think he’ll get used to the old routine again once we’re back to normal?

Sorry for crashing the thread!

Wolfiefan Sun 26-Apr-20 11:21:56

At 9 months could be a secondary fear period. I wouldn’t leave him if he’s really upset.
Have you taught a settle?
Can you flit from room to room? Let him realise being with you isn’t always that exciting!
Tried a stuffed kong or licky mat?

Windyatthebeach Sun 26-Apr-20 11:26:29

We got dpuppy at 14 weeks. We have 3 other ddogs. At first I couldn't leave the room. Got worse over weeks. Took turns having at least someone sat in the room but not fussing her while I went to the loo /shop etc. Now with lockdown someone is always in but we can move around the house (big!) and she is happy to stay downstairs /out doors alone. Just time I guess. She sleeps in a crate next to a sofa that sleeps the rest!!
Have never used a crate before but wanted to be sure other dogs were comfortable having her around first!

Pastelcha Sun 26-Apr-20 11:27:04

Yes we flit from room to room, he’s got a couple of kongs always ready loaded. We don’t make a fuss when we come or go. The settle command is a work in progress I’m afraid!

He’s always been very independent, never anxious so I’m hoping that’s still in him and we’ll get that back.

LakeFlyPie Sun 26-Apr-20 14:16:09

I was thinking about this with our 1 year old rescue (have had him for 6 months). We had been working on his separation anxiety (which seemed to develop about 2 months after we got him) prior to lock down and trying to train him to have time alone in the utility room (comfortable room with his bed / Kongs etc). Aiming to 3 hour max stretches 3 x week.
He seems delighted to have someone around 24/7 and also access to the garden which he hadn't experienced due to poor weather since we got him last October. We are trying to put him in the utility room with a Kong for 30-60 mins each day but probably should be doing more in preparation for when DC go back to school and DH stops wfh.
I'm hoping that DDog will be more confident and settled generally but fear this may be over optimistic. He does try to be my shadow whenever he gets the chance.
What are others doing to guard against future SA?

Booboostwo Sun 26-Apr-20 16:34:44

In my opinion puppies go through regressions and may become more nervous. In some puppies this associated with growth parts and in some of those puppies magnesium supplementation can help them cope better with difficult periods.

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