Stepping out of the house, you nudge Fido’s snout back inside and lock the door. It’s only a few seconds before you are sent off by the sound of cacophonous yapping. How can I make him stop?
Some dogs don’t like being left alone, and they will let you know it. They may become anxious, sad, lonely, or bored when their master is gone—this is called separation anxiety. These attributed are important to consider in tandum with your personal lifestyle before you hop on Google and search “puppies for sale near me” and purchase new pup.
It can manifest in many different behaviors and intensities. One indication of separation anxiety is vocalizing – howling, crying, or barking to let you or anyone nearby know that they are unhappy. While singing their sorrows may not physically harm anyone, it can definitely disturb your neighbors and cause complaints!
Your dog may have felt abandoned in the past, and without proper training and routine, watching their guardian leave can be terrifying. Don’t lose hope for a peaceful departure; there are many things you can try to reduce or completely stop your pooch from crying when alone.
- Create a daily routine. It’s common for newly adopted dogs to bark or whine while they are alone and getting used to their surroundings. Even after a while, your dog can be disturbed by sudden changes in their lives, such as a new roommate or a different work schedule. Give them a reliable routine: one week or more of the same schedule so that they may have time to adjust. Make sure to exercise, feed, and play with your pooch at the same times each day, even if your schedule varies. This includes weekend days – dogs don’t know the difference between a Monday and a Saturday!
- Facilitate daily exercise. Like a human child, a canine’s unspent energy accumulates and needs to be released one way or another. Would you rather take him for a refreshing jog around the neighborhood, or have him yodel away while you’re at work? Assuming you choose the former option as a responsible dog owner (and neighbor), take your dog for a walk before leaving the house. Walk, run, play, swim, or do any kind of activity until he is tired out. This will increase the chance of your pup sleeping through the time that he is alone. Just like humans, another benefit of exercise is the subsequent release of serotonin in the brain. This neurotransmitter brings happiness and calming without the use of pills.
- Turn on some background noise. Leave the radio or TV playing at a normal speaking volume when no one’s home – ideally a talk station or news channel where people will be talking a lot in general. If CDs are more your style, try iCalmPet: music designed to reduce anxiety in pets.
- Keep him busy with food puzzle toys. Right before you leave, give your dog the toy so he is too busy freeing that Milk-Bone to worry about his human going out the door. For extra effectiveness, have multiple different puzzle toys available so you can provide a “new” challenge each day. Just make sure each toy is the right size for your pooch!
- Fake him out before leaving. Help your dog become desensitized to departures by taking short trips down the hall, driveway, or block before actually going where you need to go. Come back inside after each one or wait five minutes on the last round before returning. When you do finally leave, he’ll think you are coming back soon and as a result will be less likely to worry. Use this strategy in conjunction with #6 below!
- Keep it nonchalant when you leave. We know it’s hard to leave your best friend without assuring them that it will be okay. Cut out the kisses, hugs, and dramatic baby talk goodbyes (“See you soon my sweet baby boy! Don’t worry I’ll be back!”). These actions alert your dog that you are leaving him, maybe forever – an hour can feel like an eternity for dogs! Instead, grab your things and get out the door casually as if you were returning shortly.
- Stay cool when you return. Resume the low-key act upon arrival. Resist the urge to return their enthusiastic welcome and instead reward them with calm affection when they have chilled out – about 5 minutes later or more. If you take them outside to do their business, do so without fanfare as if you have been home all day.
- Try crate training. See if you can get your dog comfortable with being in a crate. Do this slowly and see how they react – some dogs get anxious in a crate and will vocalize even more. Try an airline crate or keep the crate in a darker room – this will help your pup feel more secure. Use chew-proof padding inside the crate and do not cover the outside with a blanket (they may pull it into the crate and eat it!). At most, an adult canine can be crate trained for 4 hour intervals throughout the day. When training, slowly increase the time that they are in the crate (and you are out of the house) by 5 minute increments.
- Find a dog sitter, walker, or day care. If your pup enjoys the company of fellow canines, occasional or daily doggy day care is a great way for them to socialize, exercise, and relax when you aren’t home. Alternatively, walkers or sitters should be able to incorporate enough exercise into your dog’s day to alleviate vocalizing when they are left alone.
- Experiment with natural remedies. Rescue Remedy is a popular brand that can help your pooch stay calm in stressful situations. It can be put in their mouth, water bowl, or on a treat. Another thing to try would be a dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) plug-in or collar, which can be found at pet stores or your vet’s office. The level of effectiveness for these remedies varies from dog to dog, but it doesn’t hurt to try!
- Get him a Thundershirt. Rescuers say that Thundershirts work wonders on anxious dogs – not only during storms as the name suggests, but also for separation anxiety, car travel, vet visits, and many other sources of stress. Think of it as the blanket cocoon you hide in while watching a scary movie, or the way a parent swaddles a baby to make it stop crying.
- Bring home a friend! Sometimes adopting another dog can be an instant fix for anxious behaviors. Certain breeds with stronger pack instincts, like Huskies, do not like being alone at all. Welcoming a fellow canine into the family can have a huge positive impact on your lonely pup, especially finding one who is calm and gets along well with others.
Should you get your dog medicated? You may have heard of “doggy prozac” which can be prescribed by a vet to help dogs stay calm in situations that would normally stress them out, such as being alone at home.
If you decide to go this route, be on the lookout for aggression as a possible side effect. For a quick and temporary fix (in an emergency situation: losing your dog to noise complaints, etc.) you can use a humane bark collar that sprays whenever they bark.
These collars can produce an immediate effect, however they could cause even more stress in some dogs, and others can even figure out how to make just enough noise without getting sprayed. Medication and spray collars should be a last resort. If all of the above has failed, these are emergency tools you can use to keep your dog quiet in a situation where you may lose them otherwise.
There are other more complex desensitization training methods, but these take a lot more time and detail.
If you’re searching for Labradoodle puppies for sale or Goldendoodle puppies for sale, talk with your breeder to find out specific methods for calming your new pal.
Crying while alone is a common issue among dogs, especially in a new and unfamiliar home. Give these ideas a go and see how your pup responds – every dog is different so try various combinations and decide what works best!
If your interested in a puppy, check out our locations across the country.