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Puppies And Separation Anxiety

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Puppies experience separation anxiety when they are removed from their canine parents and littermates, much like a child removed from human parents. It is not uncommon to adopt puppies just after they have been weaned from the mother dog. At this early stage they are thrust into a new environment that lacks the camaraderie and social exchange of their brothers, sisters and parents. Certain behaviors can result that can range from whining and wandering to fright and confusion. It’s up to the owner to recognize puppy separation anxiety, why it happens and how to alleviate or cure it.

Puppy Birth and the Senses

Puppies bond with their littermates immediately after birth. It is a continuing, fortifying process that can last for years if the group stays together or during times of temporary reunion. They first bond by feel, the warmth and comfort of their brothers and sisters always close by. Even at an early stage, puppies have acute smell from the sensitive receptors in their noses. They can smell and identify their parents and littermates. They often lick and taste their fellow littermates, sometimes out of feeding confusion but often out of true affection when they become a little older. They are cognizant of whines, barks and crying and often mimic the noises they hear. They instinctively recognize cries of desperation or pain in their brothers and sisters, and soon learn their parent’s warning growls. When the puppy’s eyes open, they visually recognize their littermates and parents, often being attracted by their movement. All of the senses play an important part in cementing the family (pack) relationship, which is an invisible, unbreakable bond that nurtures their lives.

Pack Behavior

Pack behavior begins at a very early age for dogs. In fact, it starts from the minute after birth and continues well into the dog’s life and its association with its litter mates. This is why dogs that have been separated from their brothers, sisters and parents at any early age can recognize them immediately during a reunion years later. Instinct, DNA, pheromones and acute senses prompt the dog to remember those long-ago associations and bonds—they easily recognize themselves in their bloodline relatives. Pecking orders, or shows of dominance, star very early in a puppy’s life. Their first show of dominance usually involves suckling privileges. Later, they play fight and pretend bite to establish strength and hierarchy.

Identifying Puppy Separation Anxiety

When a puppy is displaced from it parents (especially the mother) and littermates just after the weaning time frame, it can display a variety of emotions. The most prominent of these emotions will lean toward a confused solemness where the puppy will withdraw within itself. It might wander around its new setting, sniffing and crying out for its companions. Although it will sleep a good percentage of the time, its waking hours will consist of investigation and adjusting to the human owner. Adjusting to the human owner, or new mother or pack leader, will take a little time. Soon, the puppy will bond with the human owner but it might continue to cry or whine at night. They often try to suckle on objects, like a thumb or toe, that mimic the warmth and physical similarity to a teat.

Curing Separation Anxiety

A puppy will need love, care and plenty of indoor or outdoor exercise. The important thing to realize is that distraction and physical stimulation will aid in erasing most of the puppy’s most recent memories. The new owner should fill in as the new canine mother—the leader and source of comfort and food. Hand-feeding, light grooming and plenty of petting are the best methods for relieving loneliness and anxiety. Another way to establish a new bond is to frequently call the puppy’s name and give praise or little treats when it responds and obeys. Frequent interaction is essential in promoting an alert, responsive and developing mind in the youngest of any puppy which has been removed from its parents and littermates.

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Eric Blair has three corgis and is an avid pet blogger. Eric writes for NuVet, a provider of vitamins and supplements that ensure pets live a long and healthy life. You can read NuVet Reviews to find out more about NuVet.

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