Aside from the normal behavioural training the new member of the family should get, the little four-legged one must also be helped to get over the normal separation anxiety that can affect him when left alone during his first few months with you. All puppies suffer from it. Some get over it very quickly, but others can have a hard time coping and the results can be, well, messy: your bedroom slippers chewed to bits, the toilet paper roll dragged through the house and so forth.
This happens because the doggie, who sees us as his pack, doesn’t understand why we have left him behind. His destructive instinct is not a way of getting back at us, it’s not revenge, but a sign of his unhappiness. We can’t always take puppy with us. We work, go to school and have to get other things done, so it’s best to get him accustomed to being alone sometimes. His unease at being left on his own results in a desire to destroy things, in vocalization (crying, whining and barking) and in ‘doing his business’ everywhere but where we taught him. Puppies have an innate dependence on us.
Let’s see how we can lessen separation anxiety:
- don’t overdo it with the hugs and kisses when you leave the house, don’t pet him or regale him with a monologue. The best thing is to go out nonchalantly and without looking back.
- and don’t overdo it when you get back home. He’s probably waiting for us behind the door, but it’s best to ignore him for a bit first. Then, when we’ve put away the groceries and hung up our coat and cap, we can cuddle and kiss him to our (and his) heart’s delight.
- when we are setting out without him, it’s a good idea to let him have a basket full of toys to play with. Aside from being a great distraction, if they are interactive toys with doggie biscuits in them, all the better. They are a great pastime for him, take his mind off of being alone and thus relieve much of the anxiety.
He needs to experience our leaving the house as though we were just in the next room, and we should not feel guilty about having left him alone.
If the anxiety doesn’t abate, or seems to be getting worse, then a talk with a specialist is in order. He or she will be able to guide you in bringing puppy in line again and ensure his emotional wellbeing.