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Separation Anxiety


Pomeranian Separation Anxiety

When You Have to Leave Your Pom Home Alone

Most Pomeranian owners can not be home all the time, nor can they take their dog with them to all places that they go. Although toy dogs are often given a 'pass' more than larger breeds and therefore it is becoming more acceptable to bring a small dog into a store or even a restaurant inside a dog carrier bag or sling.

An issue that can occur when a Pomeranian is left by himself is an intense episode in which the stress and isolation of being alone is so strong that the dog suffers overwhelming amounts of anxiety. This can affects his behavior long after an owner arrives back home.
This section will discuss this issue of Separation Anxiety and steps that you can take to help your Pom.

How Long You Can Leave a Pomeranian Home Alone

If at all possible, for the sake of housebreaking, if you have a puppy you will not want to be gone longer than the amount of time that your Pom puppy can hold his needs.

If you work, go to school or have other responsibilities that take you away from the house, a dog of any age 8 weeks and older will be able to be home alone for 8 to 9 hours. A huge part of the anxiety issue is that younger puppies will have stress more than older dogs that have become used to the routine. With some planning, however, it is possible to train a Pomeranian to have more self-confidence about being by himself and to also learn independent play which is a huge part of handling the isolation.

It is not recommended to leave a Pomeranian at home for longer than those 8 to 9 hours because as the time ticks away, there is more of a chance of something happening. Water and food can run out, pee and poo will accumulate in the Pom's designated area, etc. If you will be gone longer then those 8 to 9 hour or overnight, it is highly suggested to have your Pomeranian stay with a family member or friend. Alternatively, doggie day care or canine hotels for overnights are options if you do not have any volunteers.
Signs of Separation Anxiety

Sometimes you won't know that your Pom is struggling until neighbors tell you how much barking took place while you were away. However, the following is the most common signs of this that you will notice:
  • Signs of nervousness such as pacing, as you prepare to leave.
  • Acting overly clingy or retreating almost as if the dog is sad or upset
  • Signs that a Pomeranian has been frantic while alone (toys are flung about, non-toy items are chewed on, water and food are scattered, there are scratches on the walls, etc.)
  • Over-excitement when you return
  • Excessive barking - as mentioned early it may be others that let you know, but you may also hear this the moment you close the door or as you are walking back to it at the end of the day.
  • Trembling (seen when you first arrive back or when your Pom senses that you are getting ready to leave.
  • Coprophagia (eating feces)
black and tan Pomeranian
Uschi, 2 years old
Photo courtesy of owner: Valerie Orlando 
Setting Your Pom up for Success

There are many things that when working in conjunction with the others, can help reduce the level of anxiety a dog will feel when home alone.

1) Create a comfortable environment that is the right size yet limits any possible destructive tendencies. Never place your Pom in a crate; this is claustrophobic and will greatly increase the level of stress. The best options are a canine playpen or a gated off area. A dog will not pee or poo more often when in a larger area; he will have bathroom needs regardless. Also, a dog left alone will not bark more often when in a larger area; he will bark regardless. So, do make sure that whether you use a playpen or gates, that there is room for:
happy Pomeranian with big smile
Ellie, 4 years old
Photo courtesy of owners: Randy & Kathy Parker 
A canine bed. Blankets and pillows can be moved around; you'll want to provide a nice, sturdy and supportive bed that a Pom can cuddle up on to rest and take naps. Adding a baby blanket to that can offer an added touch of security.

Toy area. A good collection of appropriate toys will go a long way. If your Pom is a puppy, you will want to have teething toys included in this. For Pomeranians of any age, there should be a mixed of treat release, interactional and comfort toys.

Food & water. Water bowls can spill so it is best to have a canine water fountain which constantly produces a fresh water supply or a dispenser so that this important element is always available. Food for the day can be placed into Kongs but also a bit should be left in a bowl since a Pom may be hungry but not necessarily in the mood to work for it.

Pee pads. Your Pom will not always hit the mark, but when placed in a corner away from food and toys, there is a better chance that these will be used for bathroom needs.Your Pom will not always hit the mark, but when placed in a corner away from food and toys, there is a better chance that these will be used for bathroom needs. As your Pom matures, he will be able to hold his needs for longer periods of time and finally only go to the bathroom outside when you are there.
3) Keep lights on. One mistake that owners make is leaving in the morning when it is nice and sunny; they don't turn light on. But, as the day goes by, it can get stormy out and/or an owner may not return home until the sun is setting. When a Pomeranian is home alone and already struggling with the isolation, being in a house that is getting dark only exasperates things. So, leave on a few lights to offer a more comforting environment.

4) Don't keep the house dead silent. Most Pomeranians with separation anxiety do much better when they have some pleasant background noise. This can be a TV (and if a Pom has this in view, it can be even better since many dogs like to watch the screen) or it can be a radio. Be careful when you choose a channel or station. What may begin with a pleasant show or music can later become tense arguing or loud, obnoxious songs.

5) Do practice runs. Once you have things set up, do some short practice runs of leaving the house for varying short times. Have each time last anywhere from just one minute to 10 minutes. And continue to do this on a random basis. This way, your Pomeranian will learn that you leaving does not necessarily mean that he will be alone for hours.
fluffy orange Pomeranian
Kumo, 2 years old
Photo courtesy of owner: Valerie Orlando
6) Break up the day. If at all possible, go home for lunch to walk your Pomeranian for some light exercise to to allow him to release pent-up energy, offer some company and break up his day. Other options are ask family members, friends or neighbors to do this. Alternatively, you can to hire a dog walker or sitter; even just 1 hour per day of interaction can really make a big difference in cutting down on anxiety levels. Being able to stretch his legs for a walk, have some play time and have a human speak to him can help make the hours alone much more bearable.
How to Say Goodbye to Reduce Pomeranian Separation Anxiety

Each time you must leave the house and say goodbye, it is an opportunity to train your puppy or dog to accept the departure and to do so in a calm manner, knowing that it is temporary. This builds self confidence and a better behaved Pom.

Although this may be a sad moment for you, think of the positive way you are teaching your Pomeranian to handle being home alone for a while. Admittedly, it may be extremely tempting to hug, kiss and give tons of attention right before you leave the house, however it is best for both of you if you do not. This just increases the feeling of anxiety once you are gone. 
Here are some tips for leaving:

1) Take your Pom outside for bathroom needs, a nice walk (even 15 minutes is fine) and some bonding time. It's worth waking up 30 minutes earlier to have this time, as opposed to rushing to leave. When you rush around, your Pom will pick up on that fevered vibe and anxiety can begin before you even go. Use this time to give your hugs and kisses, so that when you do actually leave you won't have the urge to do it then.

2) Place him in his area about 20 minutes before you actually depart. If you place him there right when you are about to go, there can be an increase of stress as well.

3) As you are preparing to leave, try to act calm. If you get nervous about leaving your Pom alone, he will pick up on your vibe (aren't they great at reading us?) and this can cause some stress to begin. Act in a matter-of-fact manner and do not allow yourself to feel apprehension.  
Pomeranian on top of sofa
Sirus Blue, 1.5 years old
Photo courtesy of owner: Kiley Turner 
4) When you do leave, do not say the word 'goodbye'. A dog can learn that the word 'goodbye' means 'you are now going to be home alone'. So this can definitely be a trigger word. If you must say something, switch it up; one day say, 'see you soon' and the next you can say 'be a good girl' etc.

5) Right before you leave, you can offer your Pom's favorite toy or his Kong. He may not seem very interested at that very moment, but when you do walk out the door, he will have his most important toy right next to him and will be more apt to pay attention to it. 

Arriving Back Home in a Way to Step Separation Anxiety

How you enter back into the house will have an impact on your Pomeranian's feeling toward the whole issue of being left alone. Essentially, you'll want this to be as low key as possible.  When owners dash into the house and sweep their Pom up into their arms, it gives the wrong message.
Just as you left in a matter-of-fact way, you should arrive back with the same attitude. Calmly put down your things, hang up your coat, perhaps flip through the mail for a moment and then calmly greet your Pom. Bring him outside for potty needs and then give attention and some play time. 
Herbal, Natural Remedies & Extra Solutions for Separation Anxiety

In addition to all of the above steps, there are some products such as lavender calming collars and natural supplements (no chemicals) that have worked with some Poms. Another great aid is a soothing, comfort toy that emits a soothing heartbeat; this type of toy really helps a lonely Pom not feel so alone. To see our recommendations, you may look to 'Supplements and Treats' and 'Toys - Separation Anxiety' in the Pomeranian Specialty Shoppe.
Please Note: This is an overview. Our full, detailed Separation Anxiety guidelines, as found in the PetPom Book, (now in PRINT), is a 7 page, 3500 word chapter. As well as containing important socialization training, which goes hand-in-hand with having a confident, independent dog. 
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