By: Sharon Dianora
If your dog suffers from puppy separation anxiety you'll likely come home to any number of "surprises". Chewing, soiling, scratching and digging at doors are all common behaviors, so is howling and barking.
The first few will be obvious to you on your return but the last two (howling and barking) will probably be pointed out to you by your neighbors!
I know it may be difficult to see past the destruction, but just remember that a) your fur baby isn't doing this on purpose, and b) she can't help it. Luckily, there is plenty you can do to help though.
Puppy separation anxiety is caused by the stress and boredom your pup feels being left on his own. Address this, and you'll go a long way to solving the problem.
Dogs with separation anxiety usually were never "taught" to be alone as puppies. They were either left for too long too early, or, were never left at all as puppies. Dogs are social animals, so most dogs dislike being left alone to some degree, but it is definitely possible to train your puppy to be "good" while you are gone.
So what can you do to help? Well, there are three main things you can do to relieve puppy separation anxiety, all of which need to be done together:
Stress is a big factor in puppy separation anxiety. Taking steps to reduce your puppy's stress, will go a long way to eliminate the behavior she is engaging in when stressed. Besides, I'm sure you don't want your pup to be upset that you're gone and do all that you can to help with this.
I always find the best options are the natural ones as they have little or no side effects. There are a number of natural products that you can try that are all aimed at helping with separation anxiety in dogs. Probably the best one to start with is music.
It has been well documented that playing calming music can help relieve anxiety in dogs, especially classical music.
Source: "Behavioral effect of auditory stimulation on kenneled dogs" by Kogan, Schoefeld-Tacher & Simon. Veterinary Behiavior 7, 2012, 268-275.
Set up a sound system that is specifically aimed at playing music for your dog may go a long way to helping them to relax. There are a few options you can try.If you're someone that likes immediate results, you can instantly download 9 hours of Dog Music here!. You'll also get a free 40-page ebook on additional help for relieving anxiety in dogs.
If you don't want to download the music but want to find a new use for that old CD player, then you can buy some specific CDs that were made just for calming dogs.
If you no longer have the ability to play CDs, you can buy a portable blue-tooth speaker that has been pre-loaded with calming music for dogs.
Thundershirt - As the name suggests, this was originally designed for calming anxiety in dogs due to thunderstorms. They've also had great success using it for puppy separation anxiety.
The Thundershirt applies constant pressure that calms the nervous system, I believe its similar to the "swaddling" effect used on babies.
Thundershirt is made by Thunderworks who report that over 80% of dogs showed improvement using the Thundershirt.
Thunderworks offer a 100% money back guarantee if the Thundershirt is returned within 45 days. Now given that it is supposed to work on the first try (2nd or 3rd max) then that's not a bad deal.
If it works, great! You've solved your problem and should definitely keep it. If it doesn't work by the fourth time you use it, then you can cut your losses and send it back for a full refund, no harm done.
I recommend this as a first choice as my Mum uses it on her Golden Retriever for thunder with great success. But....not all dogs are the same, so below are some more natural options.
There are some natural products you can try made specially for treating pets with anxiety issues:
Richards Organic Pet Calm is an organic product that treats anxiety and stress as well as reducing hyper-activity in dogs. It may be used every six hour and takes about 30 minutes to work.
PetAlive Pet Calm contains a special blend of herbal and homeopathic ingredients known for their calming and soothing effect.
It works particularly well in dogs that are highly strung, chronically anxious or those with nervous dispositions by helping them to withstand stress and providing a tonic for the nervous system.
Improvement should be noted within the first few doses with continued benefits observed over time.
Pet Naturals - Calming Treats is a chicken & liver flavored treat-based product so is good for those dogs that are difficult to give the drops to. It works to support calming and relaxation without causing drowsiness to anxious pets.
Directions for Use:
DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) is a a natural remedy that can keep your pup or dog calm under stressful situation.
nature, all lactating females release “appeasing pheromones". In dogs
“appeasing pheromones” help calm the puppy and provide reassurance,
particularly in stressful situation.
D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone), mimics the natural “appeasing pheromones” of a puppy's mother. It provides comfort to dogs of all ages not just puppies.
It comes in a calming collar, diffuser, or spray.
There are also several flower remedies that are always a good option for dogs. You can try mixing and matching some of these to custom-make your own potion, see below, or you can use one that's already mixed known as Rescue Remedy for pets.
Helps with general anxiety.
You can combine up to five flower remedies into one treatment (Rescue Remedy counts as 1). You add about 2 drops of the potion in your dog's drinking water, or you can also add a drop to a treat, on food or rub it on the paws or ears.
Most of these remedies work well if given about one hour before needed.
You can also search on the below link (Pet Herbs Direct) for some great natural herbal remedies for pets. Just enter anxiety or calm into their search box at the top of the page.
If your dog has a severe case of separation anxiety, you could speak to your vet about prescribing your dog with Clomicalm. This is an antidepresant drug which is FDA approved for treating canines with separation anxiety. Be warned though, most drugs can result in side effects so make sure you speak to your vet to understand what the risks are.
I recommend using natural alternatives before trying Clomicalm and I would only use Clomicalm for short term-use rather than long term.
No matter what approach you use to reduce stress, you should also think about giving your dog something to do while you are out to relieve the boredom as well as teach your pup to be alone. See dog training for separation anxiety for more infromation on how to do this properly.
Some dogs are just plain bored when you leave them alone for long periods of time. These dogs resort to unwanted behaviors to relieve their boredom and frustration. Think of how you'd feel being alone for long periods of time with no TV, computer, games, hobbies or books.
Luckily, there is something proactive you can do to help these dogs:
Did you know there is a specific TV channel for dogs called DOGTV? This is not just a channel that shows reruns of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.
It's a TV network designed to keep your dog happy and entertained while you are away at work or just busy. I love this channel and although I am home all day, I do work from home so have this playing in the front room for my dogs to watch.
Click here to try it out yourself and see if it's something your pooch would enjoy.
Finally, if you already have a dog that is suffering from separation anxiety then you really need to desensitize them to being alone to modify the behavior. You can find more information on that here but I think your very best bet is to do all three; reduce stress, relieve boredom and desensitize them to being alone.If you want some more advice on things you can do to reduce anxiety in dogs, then I recommend reading this . 40-Page ebook. It has some great advice, comes with downloadable music, BOTH of which are covered by a 60-day money back guarantee if you're not happy.