Q) What age can you leave a dog at home on its own thinking of going back to work be left 5 hrs. As when I go up stairs and leave her in kitchen (where she sleeps), she starts howling – Thanks!
A) Aside from being distressing for you, vocalisation of this kind is frequently a sign that your dog is suffering from a high level of anxiety. This anxiety is heightened by the removal of the usual source of comfort and reassurance; you.
This separation-related vocalisation is typically accompanied by house soiling and destructive behaviour. I assume that these symptoms are not present in this case. However, it is important that you take action to prevent the problem getting worse. There are some things you can do to help;
On leaving your dog alone:
- Confine your dog to a small area. This will help reinforce a feeling of security.
- Do not fuss or give her any added attention before you leave. Sudden isolation after lots of fuss is confusing and worrying for a dog
- Leave lots of chewable toys or treats to keep her occupied
- Leave the radio on. A human voice is known to comfort some dogs
- Try not to leave your dog for long periods, but if you have to, make sure you take her for a walk before you go out
- Briefly greet your dog without too much excitement
- Reward her only once she has settled down
- Do not punish her if she has been naughty or if you have heard her whining; she will not understand
Finally, it is always advisable to talk to your vet. Your vet will check for any physiological problems which may be to blame and/or refer you to an animal behaviourist, who will be able to suggest a suitable behavioural modification programme.
Q) My puppy cries when he isn’t getting the attention he wants, but it isn’t just a whine or a howl it is a very high pitched noise from the back of his throat, if you were my neighbour I am sure they would think I was killing the little thing. I have explained to them about having a new puppy and apologised for the noise. Can you please help as I don’t want to get him into the practice where he thinks when he cries he gets attention but the noise is quite unbearable.
A) You need to remember that settling into a new home can be a stressful and disorientating process for a puppy. Your home is full of new noises, objects and people and at the same time, he has been separated from its usual source of comfort and reassurance, its mum and litter mates. Anxiety could well be the reason for these vocalisations.
I would suggest you speak to your veterinary surgeon. Vets are pleased to discuss issues of this kind and more importantly will assess the dog and rule out any other conditions which could be causing the problem.
If anxiety proves to be the cause of the problem, there are some things you can do to help:
- Create a place for your puppy to be confined when you are away or when you want to leave the puppy on his own.
- Confine him to a small area. This will help reinforce the feeling of security and reduce destructive behaviour.
- Ensure there is a clear bed area and a temporary toilet area.
- Make sure you leave lots of chewable toys to keep puppy occupied.
On leaving him alone:
- Make the whole process very matter of fact.
- Do not fuss or give your puppy any added attention. This can give too big a contrast between you being there and not being there. Sudden isolation after lots of fuss is confusing and worrying for your puppy
- Briefly greet puppy without too much excitement.
- Reward only once he has settled down.
- Do not punish your puppy if he has been naughty, he will not understand.