Separation anxiety – taking back control

So part two on separation anxiety is not the content I’d planned. After writing the first blog, ‘Leaving your puppy home alone – how to prevent separation anxiety‘ I ended with the optimistic words:

At eight months she [Freya] still didn’t like being left home alone, but was able to cope and we had set the building blocks for the future.”

Well the future turned out to be a little more difficult than I thought as I found myself really struggling to leave Freya alone for more than an hour – it would appear it was me suffering with separation anxiety and not Freya!

Separation anxiety - Freya sulking by the door because she knows she will soon be home alone
Freya sulking because I’m preparing to leave without her

Why? Because she’s an extremely clever pup and very quickly learnt how to manipulate my feelings of guilt every time I left her.

By 20 months Freya’s demands had become all too much…I needed a life away from her, and she needed to learn how to amuse herself for longer during the day. I knew she didn’t need me any more (if she ever did need me in the way I thought she did). I liken this to having a second baby…with your first you give them one hundred per cent attention just because you can, then along comes number two (or two and three together in my case) and suddenly you understand that they can cope quite well without your undivided attention.

Taking back control

The crux came when it dawned on me that Freya was totally unappreciative of anything I did for her. Take her for a walk and as soon as she returned she’d sulk. We’d do some training and trick fun together; as soon as we finished, yes you’ve guessed it, she sulked. Pick up my laptop and the paw would appear on my keyboard. Walk into the kitchen and I was immediately led to the treat cupboard. In fact it didn’t matter what I did, the manipulative madam made sure I knew she wasn’t happy unless she was receiving my whole attention. Evenings and night-time were never a problem, so how did I crack the days?

One: I joined a health club – I know, how decadent! Suddenly I had to leave Freya three times a week (to ensure I was receiving membership value) and for up to four hours each time. Fellow cockapoo owner and friend, Toni, suggested the idea to me. She had bought her pup while working part-time so didn’t have any problem leaving Mylo for around four hours and he is a happy, healthy dog. All the evidence I needed!

Mylo and Freya
Mylo and Freya

Two: Shopping tended to be with Freya in tow, initially walking her on one of the myriad of local walks to wear her out, and then leaving her in the car while I whizzed around town – unless the weather was too warm of course when I waited until hubby came home. I now separate the two – a long walk (and sniff)) either before or after I go out, and a second quick refresher at some point to stretch her legs. Importantly, I’m not racing around town anymore and occasionally actually allow myself to meet a friend for coffee.

Three: I live in a friendly community and we girls regularly meet up for evenings together. As I couldn’t leave Freya for too long when she was tiny, I’d always take her with me. Now she thinks she’s one of the girls and just loves coming along. We alternate houses and anyone who doesn’t appreciate her fluffy presence means she stays at home with her Dad.

Reality dawns

So as you can see I made a rod for my own back and no way can Freya be blamed for becoming so needy; the blame totally lays at my door as a nervous novice. Yes, although of course I understood she was not one of my children, but that’s really what it felt like – another child. I feel very foolish now as I write this, but you don’t act rationally when you’re emotionally immersed in a situation. Do let me know if I’m not alone and you have had a similar experience,

All’s well that ends well

Freya still has regular moments when she looks longingly at me as I’m leaving, but now she’s resigned to the situation, safe in the knowledge that I’ll return and we’ll have fun when I do. Just like one of my twin sons, who clung to my leg begging me not to leave him at nursery, but was fine five minutes after I left. In my absence Freya sits quite happily on her comfy cushion keeping watch out of the window at life passing by.

Just do it!

So if you, like me are new to all this stuff and suffer from separation anxiety, I promise that as long as your beloved pup has been walked, fed and watered before you go it doesn’t matter what you find to do for a few hours, Just do it!

Normal service will resume very soon with the original blog promised on leaving your cockapoo with family, friends and pet carers for those times you are not able to take your furry friend with you.