Separation Anxiety In Miniature Schnauzers: How To Train Your Pup To Be Home Alone

The Miniature Schnauzer is an extroverted, intelligent breed, but these wonderful traits can actually prove to make them prone to separation anxiety. However, you can use these traits in your favor to raise a puppy that does not get into trouble or suffer from loneliness every time you leave the house. 

How Will I Know If My Miniature Schnauzer Has Separation Anxiety?

In-home camera systems have become amazingly affordable and easy to monitor even after you’ve departed. An HD camera can be purchased online for as little as $40, or you can even use an old tablet, phone, or baby monitor to record video while you are out. 

Use a camera to monitor your puppy while you are away for short periods of time. Even after you have separation-anxiety-proofed your pup, you can continue to use the camera to monitor your dog every now and then to see how they are doing, and to confirm that they are safe while you are away. 

Separation anxiety manifests in a few different ways. Your dog might bark or howl for hours on end. They may lick or chew at their skin, even to the point of bleeding. They may have potty accidents even if they are housebroken, or they might become destructive. Use your camera to evaluate what your dog is experiencing. Are they fearful? Lonely? Bored? 

What Can My Dog Do While I’m Away?

The key to eliminating separation anxiety is to make sure your Miniature Schnauzer has adequate exercise and stimulation. 

Dogs sleep 12-14 hours per day, so most do not mind taking naps for much of the time when nobody is home. You can set your dog’s circadian rhythm to promote sleep during their alone time by making sure they get exercise before you leave, be it in the form of a morning jog or some playtime with you. Keep their bed or crate in a dark, quiet area of your home. You can play some soft music while you’re away to drown out sounds of passersby from outside. Studies suggest that dogs respond well to classical music, soft rock, and reggae. 

If your dog has trouble coping with your departure, you can make some simple changes to your morning routine. You may need to crate them or confine them to a separate room before you prepare to head out, for example, while you’re putting on your shoes, packing your bag, and grabbing your keys. 

Just before you leave, you can offer your dog something fun and exciting, like a puzzle toy or filled Kong. This can help your dog learn to look forward to being left alone, and the tasty challenge will provide enough mental stimulation to help them relax. 

To Crate Or Not To Crate?

A crate is a versatile training tool that can become your dog’s safe-haven for their entire life. It’s not so much a prison as it is a private bedroom that your dog can always feel safe in. If your dog tends to get into mischief, their crate prevents them from ingesting something harmful or getting injured while you’re away. If you would prefer not to use a crate, you can also confine your Miniature Schnauzer to a safe room or gated off area of your home. 

Conditioning Your Dog To Be Left Alone

If you are raising a puppy, you can teach them to be content with being alone so they never go on to develop separation anxiety. If your adult dog has already shown signs, you can teach them using the same techniques. 

Call your puppy to the crate or designated safe area, then leave them alone with a distraction like an interactive toy or a bone for just two minutes. Take care with chews that can pose a choking risk, they should never be given when you are not closeby.

If your puppy panics and barks, you can calm them by softly talking to them from just out of their line of eyesight. When they successfully stay calm and quiet for two minutes, let them out and give them lots of praise. Then, you can gradually leave them alone for longer and longer periods of time. With practice, you can teach your pup to enjoy spending time alone so they never develop separation anxiety.

For dogs who have already shown signs, there are some techniques that have been proven to help. In a study of dogs with separation anxiety, one of the most effective ways to calm a dog was to read a short story to the dog every night, recording those sessions. Then, set the recording to playback in a loop while you’re gone. Your dog will have been conditioned to the sound of your voice, helping them get sleepy and relaxed when you’re not around. Leaving your dog with “you-scented” unwashed clothing has also been shown to help.

Remember that your Miniature Schnauzer is very sensitive to your mood and your energy. Do not make a big show of leaving, and do not get overly excited when you return, just calmly greet them once they settle down. Demonstrate to your dog that your absence is no big deal, and they’ll soon learn how to enjoy their time alone.

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