Lots of Exercise Before Leaving Your Puppy
Having some separation anxiety is normal in puppies. There are three types of separation anxiety: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild separation anxiety is fairly common among young puppies. Whether your dog has mild, moderate, or severe anxiety, exercise will help to minimize this issue. Exercise can be done with a mile walk around the neighborhood or a game of fetch in the backyard, but it needs to be enough to tire your puppy out.
There's no substitution for physical exercise so it's important that even on those extremely hot or cold days, you have to find a way to exercise your dog. You can switch it up to play inside instead on days where the weather isn't acclimate, just be sure again that your pups needs are being met. Exercising your dog before you leave helps to tire them out and calm them down, just like with us humans. It's far more likely that after a mile walk your puppy will want to curl up and take a nice long nap rather than destroy the furniture.
Start Leaving Them in Short Intervals
When you first start this training, you want your departures to be short and sweet. Even 30 seconds to a minute is good in the very beginning. Keep in mind that young puppies are used to being with their mom and litter mates when they first come home so being alone can be a scary experience for them.
You want to be sure they're in a happy place like a crate that you've made enjoyable for them to be in with a chew toy to work on. You can also use a puppy proofed room or area if your dog needs more space. Some dogs just don't like the feeling confined and that may look just like separation anxiety from the outside symptoms so consider this with your set up.
Give Them Lots of Puppy Toys
You want to leave them with lots of great exciting toys to eat and chew on while you're away. Kong, bully sticks, and marrow bones are all great options for this. You want something thats going to last a long time and that is safe to leave your puppy along with. Try out some different chew toy options and see which your pup loves the most. Thats the one you'll want to bring out only for these occasions where you'll be leaving. It's good to give your dog a few different items that way they can work on one after another leaving them mentally exercised as well.
Studies have shown that chewing releases serotonin in dogs brains when they chew, which explains why it would help to reduce feeling of anxiety and stress. Serotonin is known as a "happy" chemical that will help to give your dog a much better chance at not caring so much when you leave. Over time, they can begin to associate your leaving with them getting their special toy and they may even begin to feel happy about anticipating you leaving.
Desensitize Them to You Leaving
When leaving your home there's certain cues that your dog notices you do. Perhaps you pick up your keys and bag or put on your coat. Your dog notices these cues and begins to anticipate you're leaving soon, which can bring on anxiety. You can work on this by desensitizing your dog to your departure cues.
Try picking up your keys, giving them a kong, then sitting back down on the couch. Or putting on your coat, giving them a bone and making dinner. Doing these behaviors over and over again will teach your dog that these behaviors don't actually mean you're always leaving and therefore cut down on the anxiety level before it even begins. By using all of these tools we've gone over most dogs will be able to get over their separation anxiety. If you need help with your puppy, visit our puppy training page for more information.