Don’t Go! Dogs With Separation Anxiety

Photo credit: John Means Whatever via Flickr

(LIFE WITH PETS) The bond between a dog and a pet guardian is undeniable, but what happens when a dog becomes overly dependent? Ciara Black is a Global Animal contributor from the Dog Help Network, a resource for dog health related websites. Read on to learn about the signs of canine separation anxiety. — Global Animal
Photo credit: John Means Whatever via Flickr

Dogs and their guardians have a special bond. However, sometimes that bond can become too dependent, and leaving for any amount of time can cause anger, confusion and anxiety in your pet. There can be a lot of stress in dealing with separation anxiety, but the best course of action is to deal with the issue as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Unfortunately, a huge amount of dogs are sent to shelters and even euthanized because guardians simply cannot deal with their dogs anxiety at being left alone. However, with hard work and leadership, a dog’s separation anxiety may be controlled. It takes lots of dedication, training and patience, but in the end, you and your dog will have a healthy and happy bond.

What is Separation Anxiety?

Dog separation anxiety occurs when a dog has a strong, over-attachment to their owner. About 10% of puppies and dogs experience separation anxiety. It’s not exactly known why some dogs develop separation anxiety and others do not.

It is important to determine if your dog is simply bored while you are gone, or if he has a case of separation anxiety. Dogs may be unhappy when you leave the home, but usually only dogs with separation anxiety can cause a problem.

Possible causes of separation anxiety may be:

  • Puppies who have been separated from their mothers too soon. Puppies think when you leave the house, you will not return. Since you are their new mother, this can be very upsetting for your dog.
  • Shelter dogs. These dogs oftentimes have troubled pasts. Sometimes separation anxiety may be from a previous abusive owner or being neglected in shelters.
  • A change in his environment. This may include moving to a new home, a new addition to the family such as a new pet or a baby, or a death in the family.
  • A traumatic experience. An event such as a thunderstorm, car accident, fire or earthquake may trigger separation anxiety. 

Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety

Even before you leave your house, your dog may start showing signs of anxiety. He will likely follow you around the house, making sure you are within eyesight. Simple things such as putting on your shoes or grabbing your car keys may trigger symptoms of anxiety.

Some signs your dog has anxiety prior to leaving include:

  • Pacing
  • Whining and crying
  • Shaking
  • Excessive drooling
  • Panting
  • Trying to block the door

Some things a dog with separation anxiety may do when you leave include:

  • Barking, howling or yelping
  • Soiling the house
  • Scratching, chewing and digging around the home and yard

When you return, symptoms of a stressed dog may include:

  • Urinating on the carpet
  • Whining and crying
  • Scratching and biting
  • Jumping up

If you notice your dog has any of these symptoms when you leave the home, your dog might have separation anxiety. It is important to control and train your dog during this time, as it can cause a lot of stress on you and your dog.

You can learn more about separation anxiety causes, symptoms, treatments and training tips at