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Help Your Puppy Deal with Your Absence and Return

When you're coming and going and your puppy is left alone, she’s likely to suffer isolation anxiety. Your puppy will get over it as long as you remain calm and treat her consistently each time you leave and return. Use these methods whether you’re leaving your puppy in a gated space or in her crate.

Leaving your puppy: No drama, please

When you leave your puppy, be cool and calm. Though parting tears may help you feel less guilty, your stress just may freak your puppy out! If you have trouble corralling your puppy at the last minute, let her drag a 4-foot leash before beginning your departure. When it comes time to go, calmly walk to the end of the leash, lead her to her enclosure calmly, and remember to unclip the leash before you leave.

If you find that getting out your keys or your coat trigger her anxiety, frequently stage a departure but then stay home and play with your puppy instead. Soon, the sound of the keys will carry other meanings too, and anxiety won’t be the only thing on her mind. When you actually leave, reserve a favorite bone that will engage her as you walk out the door calmly.

Returning home: Keep it cool

So you’ve been gone an hour, or two, or maybe even three. Your puppy can’t track time like you do, but a full bladder or hungry belly may be pressing. In all likelihood, she’s taken a restful nap and will be delighted to see you. Now you must decide whether you want a frantic ritual — complete with flailing paws, clawing nails, and a slobbery, open-mouth hello — or a simple wagging tail and toy toss or belly rub.

If your puppy gets excited when you return, just ignore her. If she’s behind a gate (inside or out), she’s likely to be leaning on it or clawing at it. Don’t look at, talk to, or touch her. Yes, she’ll be utterly confused, especially if you’ve conditioned this behavior by immediately interacting with her, but she’ll catch on to the new routine eventually.

When your puppy calms down to a reasonable level, release her but remain calm and level-headed. Any show of excitement on your part will send her into a tizzy. Kneel down by your pup, caress her, or toss her a toy. If you reunite with her like you want to be greeted waking up from a nap, you’ll have a dog anyone could come home to!

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