Havanese are very affectionate and people-driven, and want to spend all their time with their person or people! Because of that, they can be prone to developing separation anxiety. If you have a Havanese puppy, then it’s wise to be preemptive and take steps to avoid them developing separation anxiety. If you have an adult Havanese who has already developed separation anxiety, then it’s never too late to start fixing it!
What does separation anxiety look like?
The first sign that your Havanese has separation anxiety is destructive behaviors when left alone. This can be as simple as shredding a couch cushion, or as extreme as chewing a hole through a wall. Not all dogs who are destructive when left alone have separation anxiety. Some may simply have poor manners.
Other signs of separation anxiety include excessive barking or howling, defecating or urinating in the house, or escaping.
How do I avoid separation anxiety?
For starters, you should start by teaching your Havanese to enjoy alone time at a young age! Crate training can be immensely helpful in this. You should start off any absence training by leaving your Havanese alone for only a short period of time and slowly increase the amount of time you are gone. This will allow your puppy to slowly adjust to your absence. You should leave your puppy with things to entertain them like toys, and may even consider leaving a TV on.
Don’t make your departure or arrival home an exciting event! It should be no different than any other time in the day. Your excitement may increase your puppy’s anxiety because it could reinforce in their mind that they were correct to be anxious in your absence. When leaving, you should simply put your puppy in the crate, quietly give them a treat or toy, and then depart. Upon returning, you should quietly let your puppy out of the crate and then take them outside to potty.
My Havanese has separation anxiety, what do I do?
Mild separation anxiety can be treated through training at home using a training method known as counterconditioning. You can do this by giving your Havanese something exciting and long-lasting while you are gone, such as a Kong filled with their absolute favorite treat! You should also start by leaving your dog alone for only very short periods of time. For example, by simply walking out of the room without closing the door. Slowly increase the time you are gone and add obstacles like closing the room door or leaving the house entirely. You should only return when your dog is still calm and quiet. If your dog whines, howls, barks, or displays any signs of separation anxiety while you are on the other side of the door, then you have progressed too fast and need to take a step back.
Crate training your Havanese will help immensely in this training. However, it’s important to know that the crate is not a treatment for separation anxiety by itself, and you should not leave a dog with separation anxiety unattended and alone in a crate! They could hurt themselves trying to escape.
For more severe separation anxiety, you should talk to your veterinarian about seeing a behaviorist.