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Weeks of Age

Fig. 2.8. Distress vocalization is affected by context, with the familiar home pen producing significantly less distress than that occurring in the strange one. Note that separation-distress reactions in the strange pen peak between 6 to 8 weeks. After Elliot and Scott (1961), with permission.

Fig. 2.8. Distress vocalization is affected by context, with the familiar home pen producing significantly less distress than that occurring in the strange one. Note that separation-distress reactions in the strange pen peak between 6 to 8 weeks. After Elliot and Scott (1961), with permission.

tion, only slightly less so than the presence of the puppy's mother. They observed little difference in the effect of the mother versus an unfamiliar dog. The most effective attenuation of separation distress (even better than contact with the mother) was produced by both active (slightly better) and passive contact with a human handler (Fig. 2.9).

The manner in which separation reactivity and distress is handled may dramatically effect how well a puppy copes with being left alone. Care should be taken to expose the puppy gradually to increasing confinement and graduated separation experiences. Traumatic crate training, excessive confinement, long-term isolation, and dependency-producing affection rituals (excessive pampering and coddling) may contribute to the later devel opment of separation problems. Young puppies have a strong developmental need for close, sustained social contact with con-specifics—a need that a new owner must satisfy. The practice of having a puppy sleep in the kitchen or laundry room (often allowing the puppy to cry to point of exhaustion) is not a sensible approach, since such experiences may sensitize the puppy to react negatively when confined or when left alone. Early confinement experiences associated with high degrees of distress may potentiate unwanted separation reactions, including de-structiveness, excessive vocalization, or house soiling. By exposing puppies to gradual increments of confinement and separation, they can more naturally habituate and learn to accept being left alone when that is necessary.

Vocalization/ 10 minutes

Vocalization/ 10 minutes

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