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Separation anxiety and mischievous behaviour in puppies

Understanding the different stages of your puppy’s development is so important in helping them navigate the world around them. They don’t know how to properly behave and it’s down to you to teach them.  

Whether you’re dealing with mischievous behaviour or separation anxiety, we will help you every paw step of the way.  

Mischievous behaviour, biting or teething 

Dogs use their mouth to understand their surroundings, much as human babies use their hands to explore new things, and it’s normal for pups to be curious but there is a delicate balance between acceptable behaviour and learning bad habits.  

While it may seem cute when they are little, nibbling at your ankles and mouthing at your hands can soon become a real problem behaviour as your pup grows. It is important to never punish or tell your puppy off for making a mistake, but instead provide your pup with something they’re allowed to chew 

If you suspect that the cause of your pup’s biting is teething, puppy toys that can be filled with their favourite foods can help – alternatively, cold chews (even freezing one of their toys or a carrot!) can work wonders, as the cold will help soothe their tender gums.  

When your puppy is playing well alone or is calm and quiet, use a tasty treat to reward them so they learn to associate good behaviour with a positive acknowledgement.   

If your puppy is displaying mischievous behaviours, why not talk to the experts at Joii for further advice? They’ll be able to help with puppy training tips or advice.  

Separation anxiety and a global pandemic 

You may feel overwhelmed with training your pup, socialising them and providing playtime, but it is just as important to teach your puppy how to enjoy simply being alone. The global pandemic has meant that many of us are at home a lot more than we might have been before and puppies are getting used to always having company.  

Unfortunately, this means that when you leave the home or move between rooms, they can become very distressed. Being able to spot the signs of a panicked pup will allow you to help them adjust to the time spent without you.  

Signs of separation anxiety in puppies  

  • Barking 
  • Howling 
  • Pacing 
  • Panting  
  • Destroying items around the home 
  • Toileting indoors 

Some puppies may not display any of these behaviours, but they may be quieter and more withdrawn instead. If you are worried about yours, please talk to one of the Joii nurses for some help and advice about your next steps – this service is free for all PupStart customers!  

How can I help my puppy’s separation anxiety?  

With training, exciting toys and pheromone diffusers to help keep your puppy calm, they can be taught to enjoy their own company. 

Training 

You can train your dog to make sure it’s ready to be left alone. Making sure they get the right socialisation is key to preparing your pup to all the sights and sounds it might encounter while you’re out. You can train your dog by gradually increasing the amount of time they are left alone, but this will take some practice and a lot of patience.   

Start by moving away from your puppy and reward them if they stay calm and quiet. Slowly progress to leaving the room and rewarding them if they stay settled. Keep repeating and rewarding good behaviour until you can gradually increase the amount of time the two of you are apart.  

Once you’re comfortable with managing being apart indoors, why not leave the house for a short period to try and build up their confidence in being alone in the house. You will want to reward your puppy when you get home but make sure not to make too much of a fuss as this can increase their anxiety levels.  

Wait until your puppy has settled again before giving them a treat for being good while you were gone. Your calm behaviour will teach your dog that you coming and going is just part of their new routine.  

You can influence how often your puppy is naturally alone.  

Toilet treats: if your puppy follows you every time you go to the toilet drop some treats outside the door before shutting it and going to the loo, this promotes good things happening when you are not with your puppy. 

Tie a stuffable toy in a room you spend the least amount of time in, but your puppy has access to. Randomly add treats to the toy and let your pup investigate and get a positive experience when they find them. This encourages them to explore and be alone. 

Toys  

Interactive toys, like treat dispensers or puzzles, can give your puppy something to do while they’re alone.  

Teach your puppy to use interactive toys like treat dispensing toys or puzzles, so they’ll have something to keep them busy while you’re away. Always check the toy’s condition before leaving the house to make sure it’s still safe to use and can’t be chewed up or swallowed. You may also need to adjust their meal quantities so they don’t gain too much weight from all the treats. 

You can also have a go at making your own boredom busters, such as cardboard boxes and sniffing mats stuffed with treats. 

Diffusers  

Using a plug-in pet diffuser can release calming pheromones throughout your home to help your pup feel less anxious about you leaving. If you think pet diffusers are right for your pup, it’s advised to use them for a longer period over time to see noticeable results.  

The team at Joii can help guide you through training your puppy to enjoy being left alone so that your pup grows up into a calm and well-balanced dog. 

Preparing your pup to ignore loud noises 

Life in general can be pretty noisy, especially for little ears. Loud noises, whether inside or outside the home, can unsettle a pup and undo some of the training you’ve done. Preparing your pup to ignore loud noises can ensure they remain undisturbed when youre home and while you’re out.  

It’s fairly common for pain to be linked to fear of loud or specific noises so it’s best to get a full vet check to rule out any medical issues before trying any training. 

Play some sounds  

To begin the trainingyou will need to give your pup something tasty to eat that will last them around 10 minutes. You will then want to record the loud noise or stream it from your phone to help desensitise your pup. Play the recording at a low level whilst they are tucking into their favourite treat.  

If your pup does react you may need to think about giving them a treat of higher value or turning the noise down. 

Keep doing this until your pup no longer reacts to the noise at that level, then turn it up slightly after a few days, and repeat until it is at a normal volume level.  

If your pup is really struggling, you may want to try and support them with the following: 

  • A Thunder shirt can help make dogs feel more comfortable  
  • Create a safehaven  a little den for them to retreat to 
  • Block out the noise 
  • Seek veterinary advice about medications to support them and get referral to a behaviour expert for expert guidance. 

As a PupStart customer, you have free access to the veterinary experts at Joii who can help you get to the bottom of any behavioural issues and find the right solution to keeping your puppy happy and healthy. 

Join PupStart through the Joii app and you can speak to one of the Joii nurses about caring for your puppy, including training and behavioural advice.

You’ll also get one month free flea and tick treatment and a chance to win a puppy bundle worth £200. Free and exclusive to Animal Friends customers. T&C's apply