Helping Your Puppy With Separation Anxiety
Updated: Jan 25
Our puppy - Guinness - is nearly 9 months old now! With his first birthday coming up in October, Mark and I have really started to notice a difference in his energy levels and overall training (and listening) capabilities. His puppy-ness is slowly turning into mature dog behavior and he isn't the little demon he used to be. Not that he doesn't have his moments (we ALL have our moments), but he has really taken a turn for the better in just the last month alone.
The biggest improvement area we've had with him has been his separation anxiety antics. We knew as a puppy, he would get sad when we left the house for work or even to run to the grocery store but we had no idea how bad it was until we received a friendly note on our front door from our downstairs neighbor. Whoops.
Within 24 hours, Mark had bought a camera, a bark collar, and some toys to keep the monster busy while we were away. That was when we learned how he would HOWL during the day. Full-on, wolf-like howl from deep in his stomach. All. Day. Long. We instantly understood why our neighbor left a note, we were just genuinely surprised that he was so nice about it, because the howling was awful. Pair the howling with our torn up carpet and front door, we had a major issue to deal with.
Mark and I did A TON of research to try and calm him down. We implemented a lot of different tactics so it's hard for us to say which one finally did the trick but here's what we ended up doing:
1.) He stayed in his kennel. This was to help keep our apartment from getting torn up more, but it also helped him have his own space during the day. He will even sometimes go in there to sleep when we're home now! It's not a scary place for him anymore.
*Note: He's gotten SO MUCH BETTER with us being gone, that he doesn't have to stay locked in his kennel anymore. Instead, he gets to wander around most of the apartment. However, to keep him calm, we do "put him in his kennel" before we leave and just shut the door. He's free to leave whenever, but usually chooses not to and even if he does, he tends to go back in or sleep on the couch until we get home.
2.) We know all of this information about our dog because we installed this really cool camera that we got from Amazon. It was only $30.00 for us (I think it went up a little in price) and we can talk to him and hear what he's doing at home. There's a simple app to download that goes with the specific camera and we absolutely love it. You can use this camera for so many other things too.
3.) We do place a bark collar on him during the day. It has different settings with beeping, vibrations, and different levels of shock. Since he is such a big dog, I'll be honest, we do keep the medium levels of shock on him. However, Mark and I have both held the collar in our hands to know what it feels like. It's tingly to our touch but doesn't hurt and since dogs have MUCH higher pain tolerances, we know he's okay. It has helped with the barking tremendously! We haven't put it on him the past week and there hasn't been any howls or barks. So it may be about time to retire the collar.
4.) Guinness is SUCH a chewer. Although he hardly touches his toys during the day, he will occasionally grab a bone or his wobble ball (until he chewed through it...) to help entertain him.
5.) We leave the tv on while we're gone. We bought a cheap antenna to get local channels to leave on while we're gone so that he knows we will come back and shut it off. I've also caught him a couple times watching the shows, so who knows what's actually going through his puppy brain.
6.) We leave dirty laundry in his kennel. Don't worry, we do wash it on laundry day, but this helps give him our scent when we're gone. This was a researched piece of information - but he likes to sniff it and he's been much calmer so we just keep doing it.
7.) Guinness gets SO MUCH exercise. We try to wear him out while we ARE home. We take him to dog parks, on walks, and play with him every chance we can. We want him to sleep while we have to work to avoid any future notes from our downstairs neighbor.
8.) We focus on giving him all the love we can while we're home so he knows we have to leave him, it isn't a bad thing. He gets all the belly rubs, treats, and more when he's with us. Mark probably shows him the most love - although I KNOW he won't admit it to anyone! :)
Training a puppy is hard work but it's hard to not fall in love with them (ask Mark!). The biggest tip with any animal is to spend time with them and to show them love in ways they appreciate. If you're training a puppy, I wish you luck! If you need some other training tips check out my previous training post and if you have any other tips that have worked for you and your dog, I'd love to hear and share them!
As always, feel free to email me with questions, concerns, tips, and more at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing from everyone! Thank you for all of your support. You guys are awesome.