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Do puppies grow out of separation anxiety?
That’s probably one of the most common questions puppy owners have in case their little pup struggles when being left alone.
My Mini Poodle Baloo used to have very severe separation anxiety right from the start. I got him from a really good breeder so it can’t be from bad experiences in the past. It’s probably just in his genes.
I literally couldn’t even go to the bathroom without him crying. That’s how bad it used to be…
Well, luckily it has gotten a lot better over time. In this article we’ll look at whether puppies really grow out of separation anxiety. Or whether some training might be the better solution.
Signs of separation anxiety in puppies
Raising a puppy is an incredibly rewarding experience. But there are many challenges that can come along with the process.
Among the many frustrations that puppy owners experience is separation anxiety. This can be extremely difficult for both you and your puppy. Your puppy is experiencing a lot of stress, and many owners blame themselves for their dog’s separation anxiety.
Many dogs struggle with this issue. Dogs that have come from rescues often have separation anxiety because of their pasts. But separation anxiety is also very common among puppies.
When you pick up your puppy, this is likely the first time he’s been away from his mama and his littermates. He’s in a strange, new environment, alone with a stranger who he doesn’t know at all.
You’d be pretty anxious too!
Separation anxiety can come in many forms and can vary greatly in severity. But before we get into the common signs of separation anxiety, make sure to check out these related articles:
- 9 Signs and Symptoms for Separation Anxiety in Dogs
- How to Calm a Puppy from Crying
- 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is So Clingy All of a Sudden
He follows you around everywhere
One of the major signs of separation anxiety in puppies is that your puppy will follow you around everywhere.
If your puppy is struggling with separation anxiety, then he’s most likely not going to want to let you out of his sight. Since he’s worried that you’re going to leave him, then he feels like he needs to keep an eye on you!
If you seem to be tripping all over your puppy everywhere you go, then that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has separation anxiety. But when it’s combined with other symptoms, that could indicate that this is an issue he’s facing.
He can’t stay in another room in your house
Have you left your puppy alone in another room in your home and he just can’t stand it?
Maybe you tried shutting him in a room while you went to get something, and all he did was cry and howl while you were gone.
Or maybe you just need to get up from the couch and go into the next room, and your puppy simply can’t be away from you.
While this may sound cute, it’s actually a sign that your puppy might have separation anxiety. If just being in another room is too difficult for your puppy, then you may want to start working with him to ensure he’s more comfortable being alone.
He’s crying, barking or being destructive when you’re gone
One of the most common things that will happen when a dog with separation anxiety is left alone is that he’s exhibiting really poor behavior.
He’s doing this because he’s so anxious about being by himself!
If your neighbors are reporting that they can hear your puppy barking or crying while you’re gone, then that’s a sign he has separation anxiety.
Dogs and puppies with separation anxiety also tend to become very destructive when they’re left alone. You may find that you return home to your furniture, belongings, or possibly even your floors or walls are destroyed.
This is a major sign that your puppy has separation anxiety.
He’s peeing inside, even if just left alone for a few minutes
Part of having a puppy means housetraining. Teaching your puppy to pee outside is a challenging but necessary part of raising a puppy.
But if your puppy is potty trained and still urinating inside when you leave him, or even if you’re in the process of potty training and you step out for just a few minutes and come back in to find your puppy has peed, then these could be signs that he’s experiencing separation anxiety.
A puppy peeing inside could also indicate another issue. Your puppy may be peeing out of submission or excitement, which is a whole other issue on its own. Learn more by checking out these 13 tips to stop excited or submissive dog peeing.
Do puppies grow out of separation anxiety?
There are many things that puppies will grow out of with time. You may be wondering or expecting your puppy to grow out of separation anxiety too.
Unfortunately, that’s not something you can expect to happen. It’s extremely unlikely that your puppy is going to grow out of this issue on his own.
In fact, if you leave it unchecked, your puppy’s separation anxiety is probably only going to get worse.
If you notice that your puppy has the signs and symptoms of separation anxiety, then you’re going to want to start working with your puppy right away. Try to help your puppy feel comfortable with being alone before the issue starts getting out of hand.
How to deal with separation anxiety in puppies
You’ll need to work with your puppy to help him curb his separation anxiety. If you’re looking to learn how to help your puppy feel more comfortable, here are a few tips.
Crate train him as soon as possible
One of the best things you can do for your puppy is to crate train him. You should work on crate training your puppy as soon as you get him.
A crate will help your puppy for a variety of reasons. First, if you use it correctly, it will be a nice, calm, safe space where he’ll feel comfortable.
Keeping your puppy in a crate while you’re gone will also keep him from destroying your house and getting into things he shouldn’t.
If you’re ready to start crate training your puppy, here’s how to crate train a dog easily in 13 steps.
Make sure you also take a look at these helpful articles:
- What’s a Good Crate Training Schedule for a Puppy?
- When to Stop Crate Training a Puppy?
- My Puppy Is Throwing a Tantrum in the Crate—Help!
- How to Crate Train a Dog with Separation Anxiety
Don’t leave him alone for the first few weeks
When you first get your puppy, leaving him alone a lot during the first few weeks that you have him is not going to help him be more comfortable.
It will probably only increase his anxiety!
Remember, your puppy has spent his whole life up to this point living with his mother and littermates. Suddenly he’s in a completely new environment with people he doesn’t know at all!
To help your puppy adjust to his new life, you’ll want to spend as much time with him as possible. Once he’s accustomed to you and his home, you can start working on training him.
Take baby steps when leaving him alone
Jumping from always being home with your puppy to leaving him for hours at a time is not going to help your puppy’s separation anxiety. Most likely, that will only make it worse.
You will need to go slowly with your puppy. You’ll need to practice a lot of patience, both with your puppy and yourself!
The best thing to do is to find your puppy’s threshold, and start there. What exactly does that mean? Well, at what point does your dog start getting anxious?
If it’s when you pick up your keys, practice picking up your keys and rewarding your dog when he stays calm as this happens. Then, you can progress to the next step.
This can take a lot of time. But it’s better to work on this now rather than wait until the behavior is even worse.
Never punish him when coming back
The best way to train any dog is through positive reinforcement dog training. This is one of the most effective ways to train, and it will also help to strengthen the bond between yourself and your puppy.
This training method means rewarding your dog when he does things you like, and ignoring behavior you dislike. Instead of punishing, which can be harmful, you simply focus on the positive.
If you come home to find your dog has been destructive or has peed somewhere in the house, then the last thing you should do is punish him. First, since time has passed he won’t understand why he’s being punished. Second, he might start feeling anxious around you.
Instead, calmly clean up any mess he’s made and simply ignore him until your frustration has passed (trust me, I know how it feels!).
Don’t make a fuss when coming back
Part of helping your dog overcome separation anxiety involves what happens when the separation is over. If you make a big to-do about coming back, then your puppy may feel his anxiety is justified. That’s the last thing you want!
Instead, stay very calm when you come home. In fact, it’s best not to even acknowledge your puppy until he’s settled down. Once your puppy has calmed, you can give him all the love he wants.
If your puppy is experiencing separation anxiety, you may be feeling very frustrated. But this is an extremely common issue amongst owners and their new puppies.
Don’t expect your puppy to grow out of his anxiety. Instead, work with your puppy to make him more comfortable being alone before it gets worse.
With time, patience, and practice, you and your puppy will both learn to be more comfortable with your puppy being alone.