It is believed that ‘one in every 4-6 dogs’ have separation anxiety and that is ‘more common in older dogs’, according to research done by the University of Melbourne (1).
Many Pugs experience separation anxiety when their Pawrents leave them alone which can be very frustrating for both the Puggie and the Pawrent. I experienced this with Louis (a.k.a Fatdog) when he first came to live with me; he had been neglected and abused and developed separation anxiety when I had to go to work after I had gotten him home and settled in.
Left untreated, separation anxiety can lead to unwanted behavior, however, there are ways to help your Puggie deal with this condition.
As a Pug Parent, you know that separation anxiety is common, but there are ways to help your Puggie deal with it.
In this article we’re going to discuss some of the best ways to help your Puggie overcome separation anxiety.
What is separation anxiety in Pugs
Pugs are known for being loyal, loving, and affectionate dogs. However, they can also suffer from separation anxiety if they become too attached to their Pawrents or fur-family.
Separation anxiety is a condition in which a Pug becomes anxious and stressed when separated from their chosen Hooman or companion, i.e., Pawrent or Homan child or bonded Pug like a litter sibling.
Symptoms of separation anxiety can include whining, barking, howling, pacing, chewing, and destructiveness.
Separation anxiety is common in Pugs for a variety of reasons. Pugs are very social animals and love spending time with their Hoomans and Grumble. When they're suddenly left alone, they can become anxious and restless.
A Pug's high level of energy and curiosity can also lead to separation anxiety. Pugs are known for being "Velcro dogs" because they love being close to their humans.
The first step in dealing with separation anxiety is to understand the condition and its causes. Once you know what's causing your Pug's anxiety, you can begin to take steps to help them overcome it.
How to help your Puggie deal with separation anxiety
Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help your Puggie deal with separation anxiety, such as:
- Start by leaving your Puggie alone for short periods of time. This will help them get used to being away from you, begin to see it a normal part of their life and realise that you do come back.
- Make sure your Puggie has plenty of toys and chews to keep them occupied while you're gone.
- Give your Puggie a treat or toy that's only available when you're not home. This will give them something to look forward to when you're gone. I found that the toys that drop treat out slowly as the Puggie plays with it was the best option for all my Pugs when they first come to live with me – just don’t forget to adjust their regular meals to compensate for the extra treaties.
- Exercise your Puggie before you leave so they'll be tired and less likely to become anxious; even a short walk around the block for a quick sniffari helps.
- Set up a cozy spot for your Puggie to relax in while you're gone. This could be a bed, crate, or playpen.
- Leave the TV or radio on for background noise; this is a favourite of Rosie and Charles.
- Make sure you take your Puggie out for a toilet break before you leave so they don't have to hold it in while you're gone, especially if you don’t have a doggy-door installed.
- Don't make a big deal out of leaving or coming home. Ignore your Puggie for the first few minutes after you come home so they don't get too excited, which is tough I know, but really impawtant for their long-term health.
- Be patient and consistent; it may take some time for them to get used to being away from you, but they will eventually adjust and be a lot happier for it.
When to seek help for separation anxiety
If your Pug's separation anxiety is severe, you may need to seek professional help.
There are a few things to look for that indicate your Puggie may need professional help:
- Your Puggie is destroying furniture or other property when left alone.
- Your Puggie is injuring themselves in an attempt to escape from their confinement area.
- Your Puggie is excessively drooling, panting, or barking when left alone.
- Your Puggie is having accidents inside even though they're potty trained.
- You've tried everything on your own and nothing seems to be helping.
If you think your Puggie may need professional help, talk to your Vet or a Pet behaviourist. They can help you create a treatment plan for your Puggies separation anxiety.
My experiences with separation anxiety
Louis was my shadow from the day he came home and realised that he was safe and loved. I was lucky with Louis, in that he didn’t destroy anything, but he did cry at the front door when I felt for work and when I had to be away overnight for duty he would sleep at the front door and only leave it to eat dinner or go to the toilet. It took him 12 months to finally accept/trust that I was always coming home so when I had to go back to sea, as I was still in the Navy then, although he missed me and I missed him, he was ok with me not being around for long stretches of time and he knew that I was always coming home.
Luckily for me, I never had to worry about finding people to look after him when I was away, and he came to trust them as much as he trusted me which made all the difference for both of us.
With Winston and Charles, it was a little different; they were a bonded pair and Andrew and I were happy to have them both with us knowing that they could be separated. The only time we had any problems was when one had to go to the Vet and the other couldn’t come, and this applied to Charles more than Winston.
Charles would sit at the front door and cry until we returned from the Vet, which in the last 12-months of life for Winston was hours as opposed to minutes. Charles would settle down if Andrew or I were still home but if neither of us were it got to the point where I would take both just so that Charles was ok.
As you can imagine, when Winston passed away, and without Charles there when it happened, that created a situation that Andrew and I weren’t really prepared for; we discovered that the best thing we could do for Charles was get him another companion quickly so that he didn’t die of a broken heart even though we weren’t really ready for another Pug so soon after losing Winston.
Rosie was the total opposite of all three boys, she took a few days to get to know us better since the only time she had known us was at play group and photo shoots, and then she settled herself in without any real issues. I think her choice of Andrew as her Hooman as opposed to me like the boys also helped her transition; Andrew loves being her Hooman and to be honest, he lets her get away with a lot, which is wonderful for both of them!
Separation anxiety is a common problem in Pugs, but it doesn't have to be a lifelong condition. With patience and consistency (both are key), you can help your Puggie overcome their anxiety and live a Puggily-ever-after together.
Now it’s your turn to talk Pug, have you ever experienced separation anxiety with your Puggies? What was it like and how did you deal with it? Are you going through it now? We’d love to hear all about your experiences so please share them with us in the comment section below; we read every comment and would love to talk Pug with you.
Now it’s your turn to talk Pug, do you dress up your Puggie or are you afraid to try? We’d love to know so please share with us in the comment section below.
Until next time Puggies, have a pawsome week and Hooman's be generous with the snackies.
From Donna, Charles and Rosie
Founder of Pug Parties and Pug Supermodels
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(1) Dealing with Separation Anxiety in dogs, by Dr Diane van Rooy, University of Melbourne, https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/dealing-with-separation-anxiety-in-dogs