Since we're in the middle of a travel series here on the site, it's the perfect time to address this question from Phasekitty for our next group problem solver. This cutie pie pup, Brando, suffers from separation anxiety when he's all alone – doesn't he look sad?
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Even though I had dogs growing up, this was something I'd never experienced until I got Brando. As a young puppy, most books said it was normal, but now that he's nine months old, I feel he should be starting to grow out of it . . . and instead it's getting worse! He's crate trained and won't cry at night, but during the day he'll bark the second I step out of the apartment. If I leave him in a place that's not his crate (like say, the hallway or the kitchen), he'll chew and destroy anything he can find from the floorboards to the gate that's holding him in, even though he has tons of chew toys and bones with him. If I leave the apartment for even a second to run down and get the mail or put in some laundry, he'll whine and cry, running around and wreaking havoc until I get back – even if my boyfriend is in the room with him!
He's very well exercised (he gets two long walks a day), has a TON of toys (varying from hard and chewy to soft and snuggly), and generally well disciplined when I'm around (as much as a puppy can be). I've tried leaving for small intervals and only coming back when he's not barking, scolding him when he does bark by giving a stern "no," as well as having him sit and ignoring his excitement until he sits patiently when I first come in the door. All of this doesn't seem to be getting very far. I know there are medications for anxiety, as well as pheromone plugs, but I'd like to think I can do it naturally – I see these as a last resort. Do you think you can help? Any suggestions?