When you first bring your new dog home, it will most likely experience a certain level of separation anxiety, this is very common with all dogs, main reason being not used to sudden change of environment and separation from parents at early stage. Things like separation from siblings, change of owners, different sleeping area/environment and even abrupt change of food can worsen the problem.
You will notice signs of separation anxiety through your dog's behavior, below are some of the more obvious symptoms:
• Scratching on playpen/cage/door
• Jumping and running around trying to get out
• Loss of appetite
• Staying awake all day and night
• Growling / aggression
• Destroying stuff
Video of Amber's first few days
Step 1 - Introduction
Nobody can prevent separation anxiety, but you can do a part by making the recovering process faster, the most common mistake people do when they bring a new dog home is not having the necessary things and knowledge ready for it. That is because most people tend to buy a dog on impulse, this limits the time the owner will have for research, also limiting the time to browse through shops and get ready the necessary stuff and education before the new dog arrives, if you are one of them and your dog is coming soon, don't worry it is still not too late! Read through this post and you should be fine.
Click here to see what you will need for your new dog
Step 2 - Home
When you bring your new dog home, one of the important note is not to cuddle it, you may cause your dog to feel even more depressed afterwards when it has to learn to sleep alone, cuddling your dog everytime it feels down is just the same as moulding a crybaby that will whimper everytime it is alone. Place your dog near it's playpen/cage, let it sniff and walk around, give it at least 15 minutes to get used to the place then start to introduce it's resting area by placing treats inside. Do not close the doors of the sleeping area just yet, let your dog in and out as it pleases while constantly placing treats inside to encourage going inside, make sure there are also toys and drinking water.
Step 3 - Learning to be alone
At this point of time your dog should be tired and you may want to try closing the door lightly, never retreat if you spot your dog looking at you with it's puppy eyes, always be firm and confident with your decisions. Even at young age, dogs learn to read owner's action and react accordingly, if you are not confident enough your dog may deem you as an untrustworthy person, it could then ignore your commands and rules in time to come. Let your dog learn to be alone in the play pen/cage, increasing the duration gradually. You can leave it be alone 5 minutes for a start, come back after 5 minutes, give a treat if it doesn't cry/bark and then proceed to extend the duration to 15 minutes and so on.
Step 4 - Food
Most pet shop feed their dogs with low quality food, in my opinion brands like science diet, pedigree, unknown mixed food and so called "home made food" from pet shops are some of the worst choice I can think of. You might want to get some food/recipe from the pet store/breeder if you are going to switch food, it is recommended to get high quality kibbles like Taste of the wild, Orijen, Wellness core, do note that many dogs nowadays are having allergies so monitor the skin condition on your dog and see if there is any difference after changing. Give 3/4 of previously taken food plus rest of the new kibbles you bought. Adding more gradually, reaching around 2/4 after 3 days if everything goes well. Make sure your new dog also has adequate amount of water daily, of course you can and should try to remove water at night during sleeping hours so that your dog won't need to wake up at night to urinate.
Step 5 - Final
If you have read our Tips & Tricks on what to get, you should already have a clock/radio ready for night time when your dog needs to learn to sleep alone, place the clock/radio somewhere near the sleeping area that is out of reach for your dog while still being able to be heard. Ignore cries and any form of unwanted behaviors, if you are afraid of neighbors complaining, talk to them about your new dog before you bring it home. Clock/radio acts as a calming device to help dogs sleep better, there are also people who use aroma therapy to calm their dogs, which provides pretty good results. There are people who claimed that their dog started crying and barking when clock/radio is not present, to solve this try to extend the distance(clocks) and volume(radio) gradually each day, never remove them suddenly.
Always set aside a couple of hours a day to train, play and exercise your dog, it will help to reduce separation anxiety tremendously. Also remember that during introduction of rules you should always stay calm and confident, never back out at the last minute, for example attending to your dog during night time unless it is something serious.
Try to leave the sight of your dog once in while and see how your dog reacts to it, increase the duration as it goes, if it cries you can take the chance to say "NO" in stern voice, then leave it alone. Ignore all barks and whines, doing so will only encourage them to repeat the pattern over again.
This ends the post on separation anxiety, feel free to comment below or email us at email@example.com if you have further questions.