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Puppies and separation issues

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It is often this time of year that we see many of you extend your fur families. The timing seems perfect. With leave from work and school commitments, you can spend the much needed time welcoming a new puppy into your family and establishing some ground rules. BUT, your new pup has gotten used to you always being around. What will happen when you return to your normal commitments?

Puppies need to get used to their own company and not become attached to you, to the point of not wanting to leave your side. This behaviour can lead to a condition called separation anxiety, where the pup is very anxious and destructive when you are not there. A few signs of separation issues include scratching at the door, chewing things up and barking hysterically. Most dogs want to be close to their humans at all times and those that haven’t been taught how to stay alone may exhibit unwanted behaviours. The best approach is to gradually adjust your pet to being alone. So what can you do to avoid this?

Puppies need to get used to their own company and not become attached to us to the point of not wanting to leave our sides. This behaviour can lead to a condition called separation anxiety, where the pup is very anxious and destructive when you are not there. A few signs of separation issues include scratching at the door, chewing things up and barking hysterically. Most dogs want to be close to their humans at all times and those that haven’t been taught how to stay alone may exhibit unwanted behaviours. The best approach is to gradually adjust your pet to being alone.

 

Preventing Separation Anxiety

Here are a few simple steps to make your puppy comfortable home alone:

 

  • Put puppy in an area on their own where they are physically separated from you. This may be the backyard or an area in the house. (If inside, a child’s playpen works well, if outside, a sliding door or low window is fine).
  • If using a pen/crate while you are not home; Crate your puppy for short periods while you are present and gradually increase the time crated.
  • Reward quiet behaviour with calm praise and a tasty treat, especially when your pup is lying quietly away from you.
  • Start leaving your puppy alone. At first, just a few minutes at a time and then gradually increase it. Limit your attention when you are home so it isn’t such a shock when you leave.
  • Plenty of exercise helps dogs who must be alone for long periods. Good treat dispensers and tough toys are also important to keep pup amused while you are away!
  • Leave on the television or radio as background noise

 

Leaving and Arriving

When leaving or arriving home, make this as uneventful as you can. If you make leaving a big production – lots of hugs and goodbyes, using the same routines – your pup will assume it’s a big deal. When you return, don’t make a fuss and, if you can, ignore your pup for at least 20 minutes. After this time, wait until your pup is calm and quiet, then casually go say “Hello” and praise him/her for being calm and quiet. (Most puppies aren’t ready to be given unsupervised freedom in your home until 18 months or older)

 

Signs of Serious Separation Anxiety

Most dogs, especially puppies, may whine or cry a little when left alone. True separation anxiety is defined as destructive or disruptive behaviour, including tearing up the room, constant barking and whining or toileting every time you leave. This often starts immediately after you leave. In such cases, you may want to consult your vet or behaviour professional.

16. Fireworks and your pets:

We are heading towards that time of year were celebrations fill our social calendars. Along with the fun and relaxation, fireworks are often the main attraction. Whenever I hear them, my instant thought is, how many pets are fretting right now? Many pets have a fear of fireworks and, for them, this time of year can be terrifying. Here’s a few tips to help your companion cope with fireworks and loud noises.

  • Be prepared. Make sure you know if fireworks are planned in nearby community areas. This gives you to chance to ensure your pet is safe before they begin. If your pet is on prescribed medication for anxiety, being prepared will help keep your pet calm.
  • Keep your pet in a confined area (a bathroom or laundry are perfect for this)- Fireworks often make pets panic and in an effort to escape from the threat (the noise) they may try to escape from their backyard. We recommend keeping your pet inside to reduce their fear and anxiety, especially if you won’t be home to help distract them.
  • ‘Soothing’, cuddling or even picking up your pet will only encourage their behaviour and increase the anxiety. As hard as it is (and providing they are not endangering themselves or others) ignoring them is often the best thing you can do. By ignoring your pet you are reassuring them that the noises are ‘normal’ and there’s nothing to be worried about.
  • Distract your pet – by leaving a radio on or picking up a toy and playing with them takes their mind off the anxiety.

Most importantly, you know your pet best. Many of you (as pet owners) are also anxious pre-empting your pets reactions. Keep calm, try not to react to your pets anxiety and stick to your normal routine. As a fail-safe, make sure your pet’s microchip information is current and they have adequate identification – just in case they do escape!

 

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Pets Health is a full service animal hospital with clinics located in Hilton and O’Halloran Hill. We are dedicated to helping you keep your best mate happy and healthy through each stage of their life with compassionate and reassuring veterinary care.

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O’Halloran Hill Vet Centre

123 Main South Road
O’Halloran Hill, SA 5158

Hilton Vet Centre

142 Sir Donald Bradman Drive
Hilton, SA 5033