Separation Anxiety In Your New Puppy

Separation Anxiety In Your New Puppy

Over the past two weeks I have received a lot of questions about how to deal with separation anxiety in new puppies. Everything from the puppy crying all night in the crate to people who can’t leave the house because the new dog eats the house when left alone. In each of the emails or comments on past posts that touch on the subject Separation Anxiety is seen as a negative behavior to the point the person begging for help is at the end of their patience with the situation.


Separation Anxiety and Your New Puppy

Take a step back and consider the situation. Is the new puppy so young that when you picked it up it was still with its mother and siblings? And now it is in your house all alone? The new puppy is used to eating and sleeping as a pack feeling the soft fur and heartbeats of his or her siblings and all of a sudden they are being forced to be on their own! Just like with children the first time they go to school or camp they get upset. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly face and a warm hug and being shown all the toys and books there are to play with. So why do we treat Separation Anxiety in Dogs as a punishable offense instead of treating it (at least initially) as a sign that a traumatic event occurred. Your puppy is now bonding with your family in place of its pack and by removing the puppy from the pack when it is time to sleep you are confusing your puppy. The younger your puppy was when it was removed from its mother and siblings in order to come and live with you the more confusing this all is to them.

Your puppy is lonely

Instead of punishing your puppy or yelling or slamming the crate door and walking away make their crate a happy place to be. Give them a soft blanket and pillow and stuffed animal or two at a minimum to cuddle with. For really young puppies that just left their mother they might truly benefit from a Snuggle Puppy. If you have never heard of a snuggle puppy they have a special build in “heartbeat” and warming packs so when your real puppy snuggles up against it they don’t feel as lonely. Of course you could always make your own warming packs and place them with your puppy or even wrap a blanket around a warm water bottle thought they can and will leak.

If your puppy is still upset dim the lights and turn on the radio to a station that plays calming music. You can figure out what your puppy thinks is calming music during the day. Your puppy might be a fan of classical music or elevator music or even country music. You will know what helps calm them when you see them settle down near the radio when their music is playing. If you aren’t sure what your dog likes or the radio doesn’t seem to be doing the trick you can check out Through a Dog’s Ear’s. It was composed specifically to calm dogs and is used in shelter environments and in kennels to help ease anxiety. I have heard the music played live by a concert pianist but have not used it for my own dogs. I do think Davinia would really enjoy it though.

Your puppy is bored

A bored puppy is not going to be happy about having to go in its crate for 8 – 10 hours a night. Not to mention that a puppy has to go potty several times throughout the night. On the other hand a puppy that has had a nice long play session and time with the family is a tired puppy and happy to curl up in its crate to sleep! Don’t initiate play right before sleep time but set aside time in your evening to go for a walk with your new puppy, play ball, learn new “tricks”, engage your puppy’s brain with various enrichment activities.

By tricks I mean basic obedience things like sit and stay and walking on a leash. Nothing fancy yet. If your puppy is at least 16 weeks old and has gotten all of their puppy vaccinations and boosters you can sign up for a Puppy Socialization class to help tire out your puppy and help you learn how to engage your puppy. You will learn very basic commands and your puppy will get to interact with other puppies in a classroom setting. If you have a puppy safe dog park schedule a few days a week to go hang out and play with your puppy. If there are no puppy safe parks nearby invite over a friend with a dog to play in your yard. The older dog will help teach the puppy and the puppy will enjoy playing with their new friend.

Your puppy doesn’t feel safe

If you don’t have a place that your puppy can go to in order to get away from the hustle and bustle or feel comforted you might come home to the garbage all over the floor, chewed on furniture, or toilet paper unraveled all over the house. Sure your puppy has run of the house while you are gone and can sleep on the couch or on the blanket you left for them but do they feel safe? When she was younger Davinia literally had run of our entire apartment when I was at work but she wasn’t happy. She wanted a place to call her own but I thought dog crates were for punishment or keeping the dog confined. It turns out Davinia loves her crate. In fact she spent the entire time I have been typing this in her crate bundled up with her stuffed animal and a few comfy blankets. The door isn’t closed but she made the decision to go in there and rest because she likes it. Indiana was a harder sell from the beginning but she happens to be in there right now too. They don’t love their crate when they have to be locked in it for 8 – 20 hours a day 5 days a week especially if they are not getting enough exercise or other stimulation but otherwise they are happy to run right inside when I give them the “house command” on my way out the door. They both much prefer the crate to being closed in a room and left there

Instead of getting frustrated at your puppy because they are whining or crying figure out why they are upset and fix the problem. Your puppy will play off your emotions so if you are upset even before you put them in their crate they are more likely to become anxious. Create a bedtime routine or a calm routine before you leave for work in the morning and always make sure your puppy has gone potty before they go into their crate.

Need some more help? Check out our post from a few years ago about how to crate train your puppy!

Links in the post are affiliate links. Feel free to do your own searches for the various products if you would like.

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  1. Great post and a great reminder. So many dogs out there are suffering from separation anxiety. Our guys have been lucky because I work at home.
    Jana Rade recently posted..Our New Year’s Resolution: A Nail a DayMy Profile

  2. Mom’s first dog had that problem and tore apart the house, but they worked through it with patience. Mom hates having crates around, so we rarely use them, but we all have our places to go that are just for us and that works well.
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  3. Lots of great info here! Especially since so many dogs suffer from this.
    Carleen recently posted..How to Make Dehydrated Dog TreatsMy Profile

  4. Great info – and so true! We’ve learned a feel of deez things recently when we adopted a new puppy!

  5. Great tips! I used the Snuggle Puppy when I was younger and it worked wonders!
    Sophia Loren recently posted..Happy New Year! Welcome 2015!!My Profile

  6. I am the one with the separation anxiety. Puppies do get this. The thing we me, though, is fear of fire, break in, or seizure attack as my last dog had. Great piece for puppy parents in need.

  7. Great tips, especially the one about the puppy being bored. I think many people who get puppies have had an adult dog for the past handful of years and don’t remember how much exercise and mental stimulation a puppy really needs!

  8. When my Husky was a puppy we crate trained her, but the mistake I made was having her crate in another room; we should have had it in the bedroom w/ us. She loved her crate but cried every night for weeks, it was so heartbreaking but everyone kept saying “let her cry, she’ll stop eventually”. She’s an awesome dog, very well adjusted but I always feel badly about that. Next puppy we crate train will sleep in her crate at night, but in our bedroom!
    Cathy Armato recently posted..8 Ways To Show You’re NOT Appreciating VolunteersMy Profile

  9. I read that it helps to get your dogs used to your routine right away. Sometimes people time getting a new dog when they can stay home for a week or two. The dog gets used to that and all of a sudden you are gone a lot. Get them used to you being gone at times right away.
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  10. These are great points! Thank you.

  11. Great tips! Thanks for linking up at the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop! We hope you join us next week!

  12. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    These are great tips. We adopted our dog, so we have never had a puppy before.

  13. We lucked out with our little guy. He has no separation anxiety whatsoever. Of course, he’s a very independent pooch, though.
    Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle recently posted..Low Fat Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas Recipe with Chili Lime Sour Cream #OlivesFromSpainMy Profile

  14. Catherine S says

    These are great tips. I don’t have any pets, but I know my sister has had issues with her dogs.

  15. These make sense. I never thought of the puppy not feeling safe, but that could happen!
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  16. SUCH good info! We don’t have a dog – but my sister does. And her dog wears a Thunder Shirt to help with anxiety.
    Sara P. (@SensiblySara) recently posted..Kids in the Kitchen: Mommy’s Birthday CakeMy Profile

  17. I don’t even have a puppy and I’m feeling sad for the poor little, lonely guys. Good advice!
    Jessica (Savory Experiments) recently posted..Herb Roasted CauliflowerMy Profile

  18. It’s been so long since we have had a puppy that I had forgotten about all of the issues that arise with new pups. We ended up getting a second dog so that our puppy wasn’t alone during the day.
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  19. I find that the more snuggles, the better. Thanks for these extremely helpful tips!
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  20. Our male dog didn’t suffer any anxiety thankfully. On the other hand, our female dog did, but only for a very short time.
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  21. Great info we have never had a pup on Their own we have always been lucky in that we have had an older dog around which always seems to help.
    Kay Adeola recently posted..Battens Farm Meat Boxes!!!My Profile

  22. It’s been awhile since we have had a puppy but this is a great reminder. We are looking at new dogs.

  23. Our dog used to suffer from separation anxiety and it made him sick….poor thing. We hated being home alone and would cry the entire time.
    Ann BAcciaglia recently posted..It’s Possible To Go On QuoteMy Profile

  24. We don’t have a puppy right now but may in the future. Great information for those that have puppies that get anxious.
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  25. It has been a while since I had a puppy. I forgot how much they are like newborn babies.
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