Dog Training/Separation anxiety?
Hello. My family adopted a 10-month-old schnauzer-dachshund puppy 2 and a half weeks ago. She' has a very sweet personality and also seems to be very smart. She spends the most time with me because I only work out of the home part time. She's very excited when my husband comes home every day, and she also enjoys our two boys.
The other night I went out to the store and my husband said that she howled and cried for the first ten minutes I was gone. She was home with my son today, and he said the same thing. Last night, I moved to another room to sleep, and she whimpered in her crate off and on for about thirty minutes.
I'm wondering if this behavior is normal and will likely dissipate as she becomes more secure. (She was in a shelter, listed as rescue only, not adoptable, because she and her brother were absolutely terrified. Then a foster home for a week, another for three weeks, then adopted and returned after a week. Now she's been with us for 2.5 weeks. She's been fantastic. Seems very happy and seems to realize we are her family.)
What are some steps we can take to make her more independent? Would it help to have my husband feed her when I'm leaving? (She loves to eat.) She's happy to be in the yard with him or on a walk with him while I'm not there, so I'm thinking it may not be a problem. Just wondering if I should be taking any steps to improve this.
Thanks for your question, Michelle. It's important that you address this now before it becomes more of a problem. I can't say whether it might get better with time, but it could certainly get worse. Here are my tips for preventing and dealing with separation distress:
Encourage independence in your dog. Teach him to go settle on his own bed and stay there while you move about the room and the house. When youíve settled in to relax for the evening, donít allow him to be right next to you. Send him to his own bed and give him a chewy. Use baby gates and a crate if necessary to teach the dog it's OK to be on his own.
Keep the dog out of your bed. Being in your bedroom is fine, but he should have his own place to sleep.
Keep departures and arrivals low key:
Donít make a big fuss when you leave the house. The dog already knows youíre leaving, you donít have to cuddle him to tell him goodbye and warn him to be a good dog. This only adds to his anxiety. Similarly, when you come home, ignore the dog if heís overly excited and only greet him when he calms down.
Give the dog something to do:
If practical, feed the dog a meal in a frozen Kong or marrow bone, so he will work at getting the food out when you are leaving. Practice this when youíre at home by giving the dog a Kong and walking out the door for a couple minutes, then coming back in. If the dog is hungry and happily working the Kong, gradually increase the time that you stay outside.
You can also use special chewies that he really likes and only gets when you go away Ė bully sticks or rawhides, for example. There are many doggy puzzle toys on the market now that you can put kibble into so the dog has some mental stimulation while heís working to get his food.
Adaptil/Comfort Zone DAP diffuser, spray or collar
Anxitane (l-theanine supplement)
ProQuiet (tryptophan supplement)
Please let me know if you have any questions. Good luck.