First of all, when your puppy whines it’s not necessarily separation anxiety. Why my puppy can’t stop whining then? It seems obvious that it’s because they don’t want to be alone. But it’s much more than that. Separation anxiety has lots of different classifications, but to be didactic and practical, let’s use this concept: separation anxiety is when your dog learns that it’s scary to be alone. And this is not what happens the first time we take the puppy out of the litter, bring home and close the door in the first night. That’s something else.
All the puppies come with a radar and a sound alarm installed in their bodies. And it serves a purpose: let the mum knows when they got lost from the litter. Why is that? When the puppies start walking, they learn how to move away from their sleeping space in order to pee and poo. Apart from that, they start investigating more but sometimes they have tiny legs can’t do much for them and they can’t see shit. Basically, they’re experimenting the world but don’t have many skills to do so. They can’t ensure they’ll be warm and have food unless their mums provide for them.
Since they start exploring at a young age, mother nature needed to ensure those puppies wouldn’t get lost and die of starvation. So, mother nature decides to install an alarm (puppy whine) which will sound very loud every time the radar (eyes) can’t find another littermate or the mum close to them. Clever, right? Like everything else we judge inappropriate as dog behaviours, it has a good reason to be. This is natural and would be weird if the puppy whine disappeared, not the opposite.
The problem is we don’t want this alarm to go off every time your puppy can’t see or reach you. This is why we need to train every single puppy to be left alone. Which doesn’t mean your puppy suffers from separation anxiety distress. Just means that when you buy a new house with a very sensitive alarm, you need to adjust it until it’s doing the job but works for you as well.
Now, in real life, do you want to throw away the alarm and stop completely the puppy whines? Of course you do, sometimes. But you can’t. The alarm is there to protect us. So please, stop trying to ignore or shut down your puppy’s alarm and learn how to adjust it.
Unfortunately, they don’t learn how to be alone until you teach it. Sadly, they don’t grow out of the puppy whine. And regrettably, we can make it a problem when we ignore the puppy whining in the crate or leave them before starting any training for that.
It’s undeniable that there’re some puppies which this alarm is much stronger and they get in panic just to think you could leave them one day. Puppies can have the propensity for separation anxiety if it really hard for them to be left alone. This could happen because of trauma which normally happens when we leave them for more they can cope with – even if it’s only 1 minute. But it could be genetic as well, since, we breed puppies selecting for physical traits but we sometimes select for behaviours without noticing.
Out of curiosity, I’ll go deeper and explain how this alarm works for the mum. She has the receptor of this alarm so she can know when the puppy is lost. It works like a walkie-talkie. So, when she hears puppy whine, she stops what she’s doing and heads off to rescue the puppy. That’s the ideal outcome.
But, this receptor just starts working after she finishes giving birth to all of the puppies. This means if someone gets lost before that, unfortunately, the receptor isn’t working yet and they might be in risk. Who could blame her? She didn’t go the call. I bet mother nature had a good explanation for that and it’s in the interest of the doggies it works in this way, but it’s pretty sad.
I hope you find this as fascinating as I do and hopefully it’ll be useful for your training.
Reach out to me on Instagram and send me a DM telling me how sensitive is your puppy’s alarm!
If you want to work on this, we have some options:
For lost-puppies alarm, we offer a great course “Easygoing Puppy” that teaches you how to start leaving your puppy and many more must-do pieces of training for puppy issues.
If you feel like you need more help than that and your dog already learned that’s scary to be alone, book a 121 assessment. We can work online or in-person to help your dog to overcome separation anxiety.