Does your pug act up if you even think about leaving the house? How about when you come home? Are there puddles on the floor or bite marks on the crown molding?
It is highly likely your pug may have separation anxiety. Find out what you need to know to help your pug feel better (and save your furniture, too).
Do Pugs Get Separation Anxiety?
They sure do. In fact, all companion canines of any breed are vulnerable to separation anxiety. Dogs have evolved over millennia to bond deeply with “their” people. If this bond is interrupted for any reason, separation anxiety can get triggered.
There can be other reasons as well. Some experts believe separation anxiety has a genetic component.
Some dog breeds like the Pug may be predisposed to the type of highly anxious temperament that may lead to bouts with separation anxiety.
Just as some people become fearful or phobic after traumatic experiences, so too can some canines develop separation anxiety after a disruption to their daily schedule or their owner’s schedule, traumatic illness or injury, rehoming, a suddenly extended period of time alone or even exposure to loud scary noises like from fireworks or thunderstorms.
What Is Separation Anxiety In Pugs?
Basically, it is when your puppy or adult Pug exhibits extreme stress in certain situations, which are usually tied to you leaving him/her alone until you return.
Do Pugs Have Anxiety? Warning Signs To Watch For
How do you know your pug is suffering from separation anxiety? Well, you may not know for sure. This is because right now, there is no test your veterinarian can do to diagnose separation anxiety.
But there are some very common signs many pug owners see when their pug develops separation anxiety.
Is your pug showing any of these signs that seem to appear as you leave or when you return?
- Whining, howling or barking
- Whimpering, cowering, panting, licking lips, drooling
- Chewing, digging, clawing at furnishings, eating non-edibles
- Inappropriate eliminating (peeing or pooping in the house)
- Self-harming behaviors like excessive licking, biting at paws, tail or skin
- Extreme restlessness, pacing, jumping, running
- Reluctance/refusal to eat or drink
- Repeated attempts to escape
- Clinging, frantic, extended greeting when you return
Your pug doesn’t have to display all of these symptoms to have separation anxiety. The key is that the symptom is tied to you leaving or returning.
Is There a Cure for Your Pug’s Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety in dogs isn’t a disease – it is not a germ they can catch. Even if there may be a genetic aspect to separation anxiety, at its root, it is a learned behavior. Believe it or not, this is good news.
If your pug has learned to display separation anxiety behaviors when you depart or return, they can unlearn it too.
But helping your pug to feel less anxious, depressed or uneasy takes time and dedication. It takes persistence and continued positive reinforcement to replace the negative, anxious behaviors with calmer, more positive behaviors.
What Not to Do If Your Pug Has Separation Anxiety
Once you feel fairly certain your pug has developed separation anxiety, the last thing you want to do is make it worse!
So it really helps to know what not to do as well as what to do.
What you do not want to do is to treat separation anxiety like it is just about not liking to be left alone. In many cases, the dog is specifically reacting to the departure of their person or people. This is why just “getting your pug a pet” isn’t likely to solve the problem.
Another common mistake many pug owners make is to scold or crate their dog. This typically just makes the behaviors worse.
Still another misconception is that a pug with separation anxiety will “just get over it” – i.e. cure themselves. Pug owners who have tried this already know it doesn’t work.
How to Ease Separation Anxiety In Pugs
There isn’t just one “best” method to treat separation anxiety in dogs. Rather, it often takes a combined approach administered patiently over time to see the best results.
Don’t be afraid to talk with your dog’s veterinarian or an expert dog trainer about the best approach. For pugs with severe separation anxiety, pharmacology (medication) plus behavior modification may be the safest choice.
Some commonly used strategies that tend to produce the desired changes over time include varying departure and return times, using interactive toys and treats as distraction aids during departure, downplaying departures and returns as “un-events” and teaching specific training routines with positive reinforcement to help your pug prepare for departures with more calmness.
Many people have had luck with confining their pup to a small, safe area in their home. For instance, you can leave your pup in your laundry room and block the door with a baby gate so they can’t roam around the house freely.
Just remember to leave food, water and an indoor litter box where your dog can access them.
Can Your Pug Overcome Separation Anxiety?
In most cases, with time, training and patience, it is possible for pugs with separation anxiety to recover and learn to tolerate separation.
Before you begin trying to get rid of your Pugs separation anxiety, you’ll want to rule out any type of medical problems your dog can be dealing with.
Final Word On Pug Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety in Pugs is NOT the result of disobedience or spite. They are signs that your dog is feeling stressed.
It’s up to you as a Pug parent to figure out what’s causing the stress and do everything you can to help your pup.
References And Further Reading
Science Mag – Michael Price – Is Your Dog Anxious? Genes Common To It’s Breed Could Play A Role
Smithsonian – Most Dogs Show Anxiety-Related Behaviors Study Finds
AAHA – Sample Case: Canine Anxiety