Are you making this mistake with your puppy? Top dog trainer reveals what not to do

Puppy looking out the window of car
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Let’s face it, being a new pet parent isn’t easy. While it can be wonderful welcoming a little bundle of fluff into your family, it doesn’t take long for most of us to realize that there’s a lot more to learn than simply which of the best puppy toys to buy. 

Separation anxiety in dogs is a very common occurrence and it’s one of the biggest challenges that many of us will face during the first year of our puppy’s life. It’s normal to want to be with your canine companion all the time, especially in those early days, but in the video below, expert dog trainer Cesar Millan (opens in new tab) says that not spending time apart could have serious long-term consequences.

@imcesarmillan (opens in new tab)

♬ original sound - Cesar Millan (opens in new tab)

“One of the biggest mistakes pet parents make with puppies is that they don’t leave them alone, which is unrealistic,” he explains. Puppies grow really fast, says Millan, with the puppy stage being the shortest part of a dog's life. 

“This is when most people unconsciously lie to their dog about reality. The reality is that the human is going to go away sometimes, to go to work, to go to school, to go visit family, or in some places they just don’t allow dogs.”

Because of this, Millan says that it’s important that your puppy knows from the very moment they enter your family that you won’t always be around. If they believe that they can always be with you, you’re likely to encounter issues as your puppy moves into adulthood.

“If the puppy doesn’t begin to understand that the human will separate from them, right from the moment you get that puppy, that puppy is going to develop what’s called separation anxiety.”

Posted to TikTok, Millan’s short clip has been watched close to five million times, with thousands of puppy parents flooding the comments section to share their own stories. 

“So hard we have COVID puppies ..... which is the saddest as trying to now train them we have work and school to attend,” wrote one netizen, with another adding “Ugh I'm guilty. My poor dog suffers now & it's only 2-3 hours I leave her a day.”

If your dog is currently struggling with separation anxiety, we know how hard it can be, both for you as a pet parent and for your precious pup. Our guide to how to reduce separation anxiety in dogs can be a useful starting point, but if you’ve tried for several months to help your canine companion and you’re not having any success, we recommend seeking the assistance of a professional dog trainer who can provide you and your pup with some 1:1 support. 

If you enjoyed this piece and are looking for more great canine content, be sure to check out our guide to how to crate train a dog.

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.