Taking the misery out of separation anxiety is an issue that most dog owners experience at times. Unfortunately, many dogs suffer stress when they are left alone or are away from their owner.
The stress is known as ‘separation anxiety’ which often happens when:
- A dog is alone at home while adults are away at work throughout the day, and younger members are at school or college.
- A dog is living in a boarding kennel while family members are on vacation.
Whether your canine pet is an adult dog or still at the puppy stage, and whether he is a Miniature Schnauzer or another breed of dog, anxiety separation is something that dog owners have to face at certain times.
The Experience of Being Alone at Home
The separation of a dog from its owner can be devastating for the dog.
We must think about how our dog feels when he suddenly finds himself alone at home, or in a strange place with people he does not know, such as being boarded in Kennels.
I’ve known adult dogs, and puppies, that have dealt with separation from their owners without being too disturbed.
I know one particular little Dachshund that becomes so excited when he realises that the car is heading in the direction of the Boarding Kennels, he starts wagging his tail and yelping with glee. He has a great time when he’s holidaying with his canine companions.
This Little Dog Did Not Experience Separation Anxiety
- He is friendly, very outgoing and interested in what is going on around him.
- His owners travel three to four times a year to different countries, and therefore this dog has many holidays at a Boarding Kennel, being the same venue each time.
- He is well treated and cared for while on his holiday at the Kennels, and he recognises that ‘it’s not all that different from home because people are kind to me here too’.
- The length of time this puppy stays away from home is seldom more than 2 – 3 weeks so although that is quite some time in a puppy’s life, it is time that he can handle without having his family around him.
Now, that is one happy little dog, but what about all those puppies and dogs that fret when they have to leave their families and go into Boarding Kennels?
Boarding related separations can be an emotional time for dogs and owners. I’ve experienced such times when one little Sydney Silky Terrier in our family couldn’t handle being away from home. We did everything we could to avoid placing him in Boarding Kennels, but there were a few times when it was inappropriate for him to go away with us.
Reasons to Cause this Dog’s Separation Anxiety
So in the case of this little dog, I put the cause of the problem down to four reasons, although no doubt there were other reasons:
- His nature. He was a puppy that wasn’t good at amusing himself.
- He loved to have the family and visitors around him and would go out of his way to entertain visitors by showing off what he could do with his toys.
- Other than entertaining visitors, his toys didn’t mean a lot to him. Being with family and people he knew was what kept him happy.
- Leaving this puppy at a Boarding Kennel with strangers, both human and canine, was heartbreaking for our puppy. He did not stay in Boarding Kennels often as we could take him to most places we visited.
Perhaps we should have boarded this little dog for an overnight stay every so often to help him overcome his fear, but it just didn’t seem worthwhile putting him through the agony he would have experienced.
I doubt that any regular short-stays away from home would have made things better for him.
Had we been forewarned of the possible severity of separation anxiety he could suffer, an alternative approach to his care while away from home may have been possible.
Dog separation anxiety is vast. There is no ‘one-fits-all’ remedy, but here are a few tips that you may find worthwhile considering if you are about to adopt a new puppy, or are already the owner of a young puppy.
Consider Your Lifestyle
- Are you away from home regularly on business?
- Do you like to frequently have weekends away from home where you cannot take your puppy?
- Do you often travel to other countries or outlying areas in your own country, thereby raising the need to board your puppy in Boarding Kennels while you are away?
It is essential to consider these types of instances before adopting a puppy into your family, and if your lifestyle is similar to the above, how will you arrange the best care for your pet?
- If you are in the process of adopting, consider the dog’s breed and nature and how adaptable he is likely to be to new environments.
- Will this puppy fit into your lifestyle?
- Will your lifestyle be detrimental to your puppy’s happiness and stability when it comes to you being away for lengthy periods?
- Also, how will that reflect on your feelings as a dog owner? Of course, you love your pet, and you want the best for him or her? It seems easy now, but when realism that your pet is fretting hits you for the first time, you are sure to have concerns about his welfare while absent from his life.
Helping Your Dog to Deal With Separation
A dog’s behaviour with separation can be similar to a child’s separation from its family – some children can handle being away from their family for a few days or maybe a week or two. Other children, and many of them, cannot cope with the homesickness they experience. It doesn’t make a difference how you try to encourage your child to cope with being away from the family, they are who they are, and you cannot change that.
With a puppy, this is more so. You cannot make a puppy understand that you will be back home in a day, a week, a fortnight. That is not within his comprehension.
Help for a Puppy When Kennel Boarding
Yes, there are well-known things you can do to help your puppy while boarding in Kennels, such as taking his favourite blanket and toys with him, and that certainly does help. But it will only assist a puppy that can handle the absence of his owner reasonably well.
Your Puppy is Affected by What He Experiences
And there is one thing for sure, a dog never forgets. It’s not just the elephant who never fails to forget, I can assure you it’s your dog as well. Once a year, I visit some of my family who lives in another city far away from my home. Their dog greets and knows me as though I’ve been there all year. I’m the only visitor who enters that property without being greeted by loud barking, as in ‘who is this stranger’. No, I’m not a stranger to Zico as he remembers me twelve months apart at a time.
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All Round Quality Care at Home or Boarding Kennels
Be aware that your dog will remember his experiences wherever he spends his time.
The happier your dog is, the more fantastic experience and the relationship between you, your family members and your pet.
For help with training your puppy, whether it’s separation anxiety, puppy not listening to you, or general dog obedience problems, I recommend looking at Adrienne Farricelli’s website. Adrienne is a highly qualified Dog Trainer, and her website is worth visiting.