Puppy Separation Anxiety – My 5 month old Puppy Suffers from Separation Anxiety

by Zelde
(Westbury)

We have had our Jack Russell x Chihuahua puppy for 4 weeks now, we bought her from a kennel at 5 months old.
We live in three story house and cannot go upstairs for 5 minutes or she cries and whines etc. She has managed to escape from a stair gate so we bought a 1.7 meter high one which as of yet she has not managed to climb over.

We filmed her one day when we went out for 45 mins and she did not stop crying whining once in all that time. She always wants a lap to sleep on but I have now learnt to put her blanket on first and then put her down after 15 mins or so and then she stays on her blanket.

How do we teach her to be on her own and not cry when I am upstairs in the study studying for my degree? Or putting the washing away or taking a bath?

Thank you for any advice you can offer.

Our Response

Hi and thanks for your question – puppy separation anxiety is very common and very distressing for dogs, puppies and of course owners. We will provide some general advice and some links to some of our many pages of solving this problem.

Your puppy is used to being around a litter with other small dogs and a mother on hand for hs every whim and need. Your pooch is still very young so you are in the every early stages of obedience training. If your dog was older and the behavior had taken root then I would be more concerned – we will go through some basic tips and provide the links for more in depth training tips.

1. Some experts argue that an owner should ignore their puppy and allow it to bark, whine and scream etc – there is an argument in favor of this but it needs to be done in stages. Experts argue that leaving a puppy or dog alone when it starts to whine is the only way forward – mainly because by responding to the barking and whining by going down stairs and seeing your pooch you are constantly reinforcing the behavior. Your pooch wants to see you and hear you so going down stairs you are giving him everything he wants (this method does work but do it in stages like below)…

2. Start by taking your puppy for a long walk so he gets really tired. Now build up the amount of time you leave him alone. Start with a few minutes (if he whines wait for a moment when he is quiet before you return). Now build up to 30 minutes, then an hour and so on…

3. Don’t make a big deal of it when you leave the House – jangling your keys and putting your coat on will just get him more and more anxious.

4. Leave a piece of clothing with your smell on it – this will relax him a little.

5. Remember that your puppy is still very young and this is a very common problem at this age. Try leaving the Radio on as this ill make him feel more relaxed.

Try not to worry it is very early days. Take a look at the links below too.