Separation anxiety with doodles is a common concern we hear about from dog owners. Anyone who has ever had a dog with this issue knows how overwhelming and difficult it can be. We are often asked: “Are Goldendoodles / Bernedoodles / Sheepadoodles prone to separation anxiety?”
The answer is yes, but you as the owner can really help shape this behavior.
Doodles are incredibly social animals with a strong pack mentality. In the wild, dogs/wolves are always with their pack members, so it feels quite unnatural to a dog to be left alone. As a result, all dogs are subject to having separation anxiety, but some breeds are more prone to it than others.
Dog breeds with high intelligence and trainability are often the most likely to struggle with separation anxiety because they are wired to be with their pack as opposed to more independent dog breeds. Our Doodles certainly fit into the former category.
As discussed in previous articles, the Poodle is an incredibly intelligent and people-oriented breed bred for retrieving and companionship. The Golden Retriever and Bernese Mountain Dog were also bred to work closely with humans doing various jobs. Ironically, the very traits that make the Goldendoodle and Bernedoodle so loveable as pets (i.e. incredibly affectionate and trainable) is also what makes them prone to separation anxiety.
So if you are like many Americans who want a smart, cuddly companion, but who also have to leave their dog at home when they go to work…should you get a Doodle?
The answer is a resounding YES!
How to Alleviate Separation Anxiety With Your Doodle
There are many ways to curb your dog’s separation anxiety in the early stages of his life. One of the most effective tactics is appropriate crate training. When utilized correctly, the crate actually feels like a safe, cozy place to your dog and will help keep him calm and at rest when he must be left alone. Please note that early introduction to crate training is critical!
At Jenna Lee Designer Doodles we introduce all of our puppies to the crate at 2-3 weeks of age! It’s a gradual introduction. First, they are first placed in a crate with other littermates. As they get older, they begin to spend small amounts of individual time in the crate each day.
Being fed in their crate, having special “crate only” toys such as special chew toys and peanut-butter filled kongs help our pups develop a positive association with their crate. We give our pups an excellent head start, but as the owner, it is up to you to continue structured crate time even if your pup objects at first.
Starting with the crate at a young age and continuing consistent crate time as the pup grows older is a huge key to helping your pup feel secure even when they are alone.
Ease Symptoms with Exercise
Another important factor is an appropriate amount of exercise. A tired pup will be much more willing to relax and nap when alone than a pup who has pent up energy. Doodles are moderately active dogs and need daily exercise – especially when they are young.
Taking your pup for a brisk morning walk and/or fetch time out in the yard before leaving for work will definitely help him feel more relaxed while you are away. Depending on your schedule, it may be important to utilize a dog walker or doggy day care if exercising your Doodle does not fit into your schedule.
But what if you are giving your pup plenty of daily exercise and play time, being consistent on crate training, giving him special toys and/or long-lasting treats when you leave and still having difficulties with separation anxiety? You may be thinking….what gives?!?
If your dog does not settle in his crate easily and/or you notice a lot of these behaviors beginning as you start your routine to leave the house, he may need a little extra help with overcoming separation anxiety. A few signs of anxiety in your dog could be panting, yawning, drooling, pacing, whining and barking.
Doodles are very smart and intuitive and easily pick up all sorts of human cues that you may be unaware of. Oftentimes for dogs with separation anxiety, the anxiety begins as soon as their owner begins to show “signs” of leaving the house. These can be little things such as getting dressed into certain work clothes, packing a lunch or grabbing your car keys. Pay attention to your doods’ reaction to any of these triggers and then mix it up!
For example, get dressed and grab your keys but then sit back down on the couch and watch a TV show with your pup. The goal is to desensitize your pup to a lot of these cues so that his anxiety does not have a chance to build before you leave the house each day.
You might also try grabbing your keys and walking out the door, but then returning after only a minute away. It may sound silly, but if you do this enough, your dog will become desensitized to a lot of these “going away cues.”
When you do leave the house for real, your pup is more likely to settle as he has not been able to have his anxiety build beforehand. As far as he knows, you may be walking right back through the door at any moment – and he’ll be there waiting for you with a waggy tail and eager to please attitude!
Yet another idea is to try the tried and proven method of slowly building your dog’s confidence over time with small increments. First, try leaving the house for five minutes and then return and greet your dog with a snack. Next, try leaving for ten minutes. Then twenty minutes.
Once you begin to see improvement at each level, continue increasing the time away until you reach your desired time goal. Pretty soon, you should be able to leave in confidence knowing your dog is comfortable and secure in his isolation.
We hope these tips will help each and every dood be comfortable in his environment. Don’t forget that you can always reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more help.
Jenna and the JLDD Team
What Do I Need to Know Before Buying a Goldendoodle?