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Separation Anxiety

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Pomeranian Separation Anxiety

Overview

Most Pomeranian owners can not be home all the time, nor can they take their dog with them to all places that they go. 

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 affect 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 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 if he has the right set-up for comfort, safety and to meets all of his needs.

It will take a bit of careful planning and obtaining the right items to ensure that your Pom is protected, cannot get into any trouble, can reach both his food and water, and has the right items to help keep stress and anxiety at a minimum. 

Also, 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. 

Use the right playpen. Never place your Pom in a crate; this is claustrophobic and will greatly increase the level of stress. The method that works best is to have a quality indoor, portable playpen for your Pom.  

When a dog is in a large room or has free reign in an empty house, this can make him feel a lot more lonely. Yet, when he has a good-sized, comfortable pen, canine instinct tells him that he is safe and secure.

The pen will also ensure that his other needed supplies are all within reach. And, it limits where he can go to the bathroom. 
happy Pomeranian with big smile
Ellie, 4 years old
Photo courtesy of 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.
A companion toy - These are so fantastic and can make such a huge difference for a Pom that struggles to be by himself. The Smart Pet Snuggle Puppy Companion Toy
mimics a real-live companion. It is a good-sized durable stuffed animal, that emits a soothing heartbeat! These also have an option to release a comforting warmth.
With this, your Pom is no longer alone and has a friend to snuggle up to. 

Do note that your Pom may not pay much attention to his Snuggle Pup when you are there; after all, he only needs his friend when you are gone. You can test this by sneaking back and looking through a window, or you'll see this if you have a pet cam set up.

* Optional - Pet cam - Though ones that actually work may be something you'll need to budget for, they are quite amazing. One of the top rated pet cams is the Petzi Treat Cam: Wi-Fi Pet Camera & Treat Dispenser. You can actually speak to your Pom through it. You can take snapshots photos of your Pom. And it will release treats to your Pom upon your command. 

This is such a wonderful way to see and interact with your Pom while you are away from home.
2) 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.

3) 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 or it can be a radio. However, finding the right channel or station can be tricky, because you cannot be sure of the content of the commercials.

We have recently discovered a wonderful alternative. And this is music created specifically for canine ears. These CD's, MP3 or streaming albums are filled with songs (and/or speech and other noises) to both keep a dog calm and help make him feel not so alone (more ahead).
fluffy orange Pomeranian
Kumo, Photo courtesy of owner: Valerie Orlando
4) 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.
5) 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.

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. 

These are the type that are also used for motion sickness. Keep in mind that such a product will not work by itself, and is only meant to be used in conjunction with other aids. 

To see our recommendations, you may look to 'Supplements and Treats' in the Pomeranian Specialty Shoppe.

Leaving and Arriving - Tips to Help

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. 
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