Getting a new dog is a wonderful and exciting new stage in anyone’s life. Handled well, this process is enjoyable, exciting and the beginning of a wonderful relationship that will last many years.
I was reminded of the importance of this yesterday while visiting one of my lovely clients. While I was attending to his little dog Trixie I could here another little dog barking relentlessly. Trixie’s dad told me his neighbour had just got a new puppy, but worked full time, leaving this new pup alone for the entire day every day. This is a truly heartbreaking scenario and you can possibly imagine the depths of distress and loneliness that a young pup, recently separated from its loving mother and siblings to be abandoned daily in a back yard, will experience.
Of course when the owner returns at the end of the day they are going to be greeted by a pup that appears delighted to see them, leaps around excitedly and is craving affection and interaction. The puppy has few opportunities to communicate the sadness it has been experiencing all day. In many cases these dogs will take to chewing and destroying things as an outlet for their grief, but many others just suffer. Usually not in silence.
There are many options to avoid such a scenario. Here are a few…
- Get two puppies at the same time.
- Whether siblings or not, two pups of a similar age usually get on very well initially and can be expected to bond further over time.
- Get your new puppy well before your old dog has left you.
- So long as your current dog isn’t too old and limited in mobility it is quite likely that the older dog will be reinvigorated in life and become significantly more active.
- Frequently the old dog will help the young pup learn how to behave, where to toilet and so on.
- If your old dog suffers anxiety there is sadly some likelihood that the young pup may absorb some of these anxieties. Obviously this is a problem best avoided.
- Hire a pet sitter.
- This is an excellent option and services such as MadPaws make find a suitable sitter much easier.
- Utilise a doggy-daycare service.
- Another brilliant option that also provides wonderful dog socialisation experiences for your pup.
- Bring your puppy to work.
- Not an option for everyone, but if it does suit your workplace it can be very close to perfect. Some of the happiest dogs I have ever met have been truck driver’s dogs.
- Take annual leave coinciding with the arrival of the puppy.
- Another really wonderful option as it allows you to bond completely with your dog and provide some very effective and focused training.
- Short departure training is a super appropriate thing to do at this time. Start with teaching your pup to stay and progress to asking it to stay as you step through and close a door.
- Steadily progress with increasing lengths of leaving the pup alone as long is it isn’t becoming distressed.
- There are many great articles on this.
- Enlist the help of family and friends to provide pet sitting.
- If you know anyone who has a love of pups and some time on their hands (and possibly owe you a favour!) this is another option. Just make sure you have clear expectations about what they will do and when they will be there!
- Having a friend’s young dog come to stay with you, or your pup go to stay the day with them also works well.
If you would like to learn more, the following article is a great summary of many aspects of anxiety in dogs.
Do You Really Understand Your Dog’s Anxiety?
- Aloff. Aggression In Dogs. 2002. 248-262
- Grandin. Making Animals Happy. 2009. 46-56
- Horwitz & Mills. BSAVA Manual of Canine & Feline Behavioural Medicine. 2012. 146-158
- Hart et al. Canine & Feline Behaviour Therapy. 2006. 145-161