Adopting a new puppy can be an incredible and rewarding experience. These precious little bundles of fur, while very loving, are energetic, mischievous, and in need of training. However, the fulfillment we receive by taking care of our new companions is unlike almost anything else on earth.
Adopting a puppy is much like having a new member of the family in our homes. The first few months with him can be strikingly similar to the first few months of having a baby in the house. Much like a child, these beautiful and special animals have needs and feelings, which you will quickly notice in the first few days of bringing a new puppy into your home.
One of the first things you may notice about your new puppy is that he becomes sad or agitated around bedtime. This behavior will be noticeable if he sleeps outside of your bedroom. The cause of this agitation is separation anxiety.
Dogs are exceptionally loyal and loving to the humans in their family. When those humans go away for an extended period of time, he can feel anxiety and loneliness. Leaving him also applies to the time when he is away from you while sleeping at night.
Anxiety in puppies can manifest in several different ways. If your puppy engages in any of these behaviors at night that may be an indication he is sad or anxious.
- Pawing or scratching at your bedroom door after bedtime
- Panting or whining around bedtime
- Nonstop pacing around the house
- Going potty inside the home after being successfully potty trained
- Biting or chewing on household objects they usually ignore
- Biting at their tail or scratching at their face
Seeing your puppy engage in any of these activities may be worrying and even heartbreaking. But steps can be taken to alleviate anxiety in puppies at night. With the proper training and care, most puppies can learn to make it through the night without issue. Then you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your puppy is safe and happy while you’re asleep.
Breeds Prone to Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety in puppies at night is rare, but it does happen. Unfortunately, certain breeds are more prone to it than others. While a dog of any breed can fall victim to this apprehension, some breeds are more likely to suffer when left alone.
1. German Shepherd
German shepherds are smart and loyal. These dogs have been bred to fill many different roles. This breeding is what has likely given them some issues with their temperament. The last few years have seen an unfortunate decline in the disposition of these dogs. Now, they are one of the most common breeds to suffer from anxiety issues.
2. Australian Shepherd
Australian shepherds are bred for herding. The lack of activity at night could be the trigger of their angst. These dogs want to be running around and “working.” The downtime that comes with bedtime can trigger anxiousness in some pups.
The Vizsla is a popular gundog from Hungary, and they are accustomed to hunting with their owners. The breed craves constant companionship. Losing their best friend for even a few hours at night can cause this breed to become distraught.
4. Border Collie
Border collies are smart and energetic dogs. They crave constant stimulation and activity. While we humans like our eight hours of sleep, border collies would prefer to use that time doing something productive. This fact can lead some border collies to feel anxiety associated with separation from their human.
5. Toy Poodle
These tiny and loving dogs were explicitly bred for companionship, resulting in some pups hating even the briefest of moments left alone.
Below are some frequently asked questions about the anxiety a puppy experiences due to be separated from his owner.
Should I leave my puppy to cry at night?
There are varying schools of thought with regard to the idea of leaving your puppy to cry at night. However, dog experts in general would say not to leave your puppy alone to cry at night time. That will only serve to increase his anxiety.
Plus, you will likely experience distress as well either due to hearing him cry or feeling guilty by leaving him to cry.
How do I Stop My Puppy’s Separation Anxiety?
First, it’s important to remember that your puppy is going from having a mom and several siblings together for the first 6 to 8 weeks of his life 24/7, (assuming your precious pup comes from a responsible breeder), to now being by himself. He has been pulled away from them to either be left alone in a pet store window, or be placed in a new home.
This environment is not something he is used to, nor is he used to being by himself. He doesn’t know what being alone is and certainly it can be very scary. It would be the same for him as it is would be for us as little kids.
Suggestions for stopping your puppy’s anxiety is to crate train him.
Gradually get him use to the crate by putting him in there several times throughout the day. It would be very beneficial to be with him for a few days after you bring him home. This will help him to get him acclimated to his new environment without being suddenly all by himself.
Then, several times throughout the day, put him in a crate with the door open. You can give him a toy or treat, even feed him in there. He can keep himself entertained with that toy or busy eating his food. Gradually, extend the period of time he is in the crate.
During this time, he should be able to see you in the same room as him. However, eventually, you should leave the room for short periods of time too. This way he can notice you are gone, but that you will return to him.
In due course, you can start closing the crate door for short periods of time. Let him see you when you do that. Then, start leaving the room when the door is closed for short periods. You can gradually build on that time as he gets more accustomed to the crate. Eventually he should be very comfortable being in the crate with the door closed while you are away for long periods of time.
Tips for keeping your dog comfortable while being in the crate:
It would be very helpful to him if he has something from you with your smell on it. It could be something like a towel or blanket.
In some cases you may find that wrapping that blanket or towel around a warm bottle of water will help. (That reminds him of the warmth of this mom.)
Another option to help let him, is to allow him sleep with you in your bed. Being next to you may be the comfort he needs to avoid crying.
Place a clock that has a ticking second hand in or near the crate to mimic the sound of his mama’s heartbeat.
Other actions you can take to help stop your puppy crying at night is to:
- Tire him out before going to bed.
- Limit food consumption and his water intake just before going to bed. That limits his need to go potty several times in the middle of the night.
- Apply the same techniques listed above except without a crate, if you choose not to crate your pup.
- Have another dog or pet in the house to give the little guy some company and help him feel more secure.
The most important thing to know and remember is that these efforts will take consistent work and time commitment on your end. It will also require patience as he works through the learning process.
Helping alleviate your dog’s anxiety won’t happen overnight. He needs you to help him get past what is causing that anxiety.
Do Puppies Grow Out of Separation Anxiety?
The unfortunate reality is that puppies will not just grow out of separation anxiety. While scientists aren’t sure on the exact cause of anxiety in puppies, they know that it isn’t a natural trait puppies possess.
Most of these pets will never have this ailment, but the ones that do will need specific care to get through it. Temperament issues in these fur-babies can be considered as a mental condition. As the caretakers of these loving animals, we must take steps so that these cherished family members can overcome this illness and become healthy again.
Curing Puppy Separation Anxiety Solutions
Now that we know puppies will not just grow out of their anxiety when left alone, it’s time to look at some solutions that can effectively treat the problem and make our little fur babies happy and healthy once again. There are different levels of separation anxiety, and each level can be treated differently. Mild cases can be combated with simple training techniques that anyone can undertake, but more severe cases may require outside help.
The first step new puppy owners should take to combat this issue in puppies is to stick to a set schedule and standard. For example, allowing your new puppy to sleep in your bed with you at night will train them to expect such habits in the future. If you instantly take that nighttime routine away, you may cause your puppy to feel anxious and sad when you close off your room to them. Suddenly they find themselves without you for several hours at night. It’s best to teach your puppy right from the beginning of their lives that their nighttime hours will be spent by themselves. They will quickly become used to this reality, significantly reducing the chance that they feel abandoned.
For puppies with mild nighttime loneliness, several things that can be done to help them cope.
Puppies with severe temperament issues may need outside assistance. A dog trainer may be able to help your puppy get over their anxiety. A veterinarian may also be able to help with severe abandonment issues.
If you are interested, you can attempt some methods on your own before seeking outside help. Try placing your puppy in a secure location, such as a bedroom with windows and a lot of toys. This may help them cope with your absence during the night. Leaving a pile of dirty laundry out for your puppy may also help with this, as your scent will be strong in the air, comforting them until you return in the morning.
Separation Anxiety Medication Used to Treat Dogs
Unfortunately, no matter how much you try, your puppy may not be able to navigate their way out of the anxiousness they feel during the night. In these cases, there are medications available that will help them cope with their anxiety.
Billion Pets Pure Organic Hemp Oil
VetraPet Stress & Anxiety Pet Hemp Oil
PremiumCare Stress & Anxiety Calming Chews
Zen Bites Calming Dog Chews
Regardless of what path you choose, just remember that he is looking to you for some help with his separation anxiety issues. As a puppy parent, it is up to you to help him resolve those issues.