Have you ever had the misfortune of walking into your house to find overturned furniture, inches-deep claw gouges on door frames, blood-stained tooth marks on window sills, and countless messages on your answering machine from neighbors complaining about your dog barking and howling for hours on end in your absence? If so, you’re probably familiar with separation anxiety in dogs – a mild label for a devastating and destructive behavior.
Thirty years ago the phrase was uncommon in dog training circles. Today it’s a rare dog owner who hasn’t heard of separation anxiety in dogs, experienced it with a one of her own dogs, or at least had a friend whose canine companion reportedly suffered from this difficult disorder. Separation-related behaviors seem more common these days, and sadly, can also result in human frustration and anger – and sometimes even the euthanasia of an offending dog when a despairing owner reaches her wits’ end.
In her excellent book, Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals, Dr. Karen Overall defines separation anxiety as, “A condition in which animals exhibit symptoms of anxiety or excessive distress when they are left alone.” The most common separation anxiety symptoms in dogs include destructive behavior, house soiling, and excessive vocalization. Many dogs with this challenging behavior also refuse to eat or drink when left alone, don’t tolerate crating, pant and salivate excessively when distressed, and go to great lengths to try to escape from confinement, with apparent total disregard for injury to themselves or damage to their surroundings.
It’s natural for young mammals to experience anxiety when separated from their mothers and siblings; it’s an adaptive survival mechanism. A pup who gets separated from his family cries in distress, enabling Mom to easily find him and rescue him. In the wild, even an adult canine who is left alone is more likely to die – either from starvation, since he has no pack to hunt with, or from attack, since he has no pack mates for mutual protection. For this reason, signs of separation anxiety in puppies is somewhat expected.
Given the importance of a dog’s canine companions, it speaks volumes about the dog’s adaptability as a species that we can condition them to accept being left alone at all! We’re lucky we don’t have far more problems than we do, especially in today’s world, where few households have someone at home regularly during the day to keep the dog company.
There was a time in our society when fewer dogs were left home alone – Mom stayed home while Dad went off to work every day – so dogs had less exposure to the kind of daily isolation that contributes to separation anxiety behavior. Some behavior scientists theorize that experiencing a fear-causing event when a young dog is already mildly stressed about being alone can trigger more intense “home alone” anxiety behaviors.
In today’s world there are a significant number of dogs who are afflicted with some degree of separation distress. The best solution for how to break a dog’s separation anxiety depends largely upon the dog’s situation and anxiety triggers. Fortunately, many dog owners these days are willing to seek solutions to behavior problems rather than just “getting rid of” the dog. As a result, behavior professionals are likely to see canine clients with separation distress disorders.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Another reason separation anxiety seems more prevalent today than a few decades ago is that it is misdiagnosed with some frequency by laypersons. With an increased awareness of the condition has come an increase in misidentification of behaviors that resemble separation distress behaviors, but really aren’t.
For example, house soiling can be related to anxiety, but there are many other potential causes. These include incomplete housetraining, lack of access to appropriate elimination areas, unreasonable owner expectations (expecting the dog to “hold it” for 10 hours or more), fear, excitement, marking, submissive elimination, or physical incontinence.
Destructive behavior may be a result of separation anxiety, or it could be normal puppy behavior, play, reaction to outside stimuli, and/or an outlet for excess energy. Separation distress could be the cause of excessive barking and howling, or the dog could be stimulated to bark by street sounds (traffic, people talking), trespassers (i.e., a mail carrier, intruder, Girls Scouts selling cookies), social facilitation (other dogs barking), play, aggression, or fear.
It’s critically important that a problem behavior be correctly identified prior to the implementation of a behavior modification program. It does no good to try to modify separation anxiety if that’s not really the problem.
If a dog pees in the house when left alone as well as when the owner is home, it’s more likely a housetraining problem than a separation issue. However, a dog urinating in his crate when the owner leaves the house, but who is fine holding it through the night, is an example of possible separation anxiety. Separation-related destruction is usually directed toward escape efforts – chewing or clawing at or through doorframes, windowsills, and walls. If the destruction is more generalized throughout the house, it points toward one or more of the other possible causes, rather than an isolation issue. A strategically located video camera or sound-activated tape recorder can help identify possible outside stimuli, such as visitors to the home or unusual noises, that might trigger what otherwise may appear to be separation-related behaviors.
Isolation Distress and Separation Anxiety: What’s the Difference?
Distress over being left alone is not always a full-blown separation anxiety problem. First, a dog may suffer from a mild distress to a severe anxiety disorder. “Distress” indicates a lower intensity of stress behaviors when the dog is alone, while “anxiety” is an extreme panic attack.
The distinction between “isolation” and “separation” is equally important. Isolation distress means the dog doesn’t want to be left alone – any ol’ human will do for company, and sometimes even another dog will fill the bill. True separation distress or anxiety means the dog is hyper-bonded to one specific person, and continues to show stress behaviors if that person is absent, even if other humans or dogs are present.
Our Cardigan Corgi, Lucy, suffers from moderate isolation distress – she doesn’t like to be left alone outdoors. Before we realized the significance of her behavior, she managed to injure herself badly, falling off a stone wall onto cement steps eight feet below in her persistent attempts to reach us through a window. Indoors, her isolation distress is milder. She may bark briefly if we leave her alone downstairs, but quickly calms and settles.
Missy, on the other hand, demonstrates true separation distress. The eight-year-old Australian Shepherd had been in at least four different homes prior to joining our family last fall. As is sometimes the case with dogs who have been rehomed numerous times, she attached herself to one of her new humans (me) completely and almost instantly.
If our whole family is in the barn, and I go back to the house for some reason, Missy could care less that my husband is still with her in the barn; she becomes hyper-vigilant, watching anxiously for me to return, ignoring Paul’s attempts to reassure her or engage in other activities. Fortunately for us, her stress level is mild; other than some scratches inflicted to our kitchen door on the second day of her arrival to our home, she’s done nothing destructive; her level of stress over my absence is low, and tolerable, and consists primarily of pacing, whining, and barking. But it may explain why we’re at least her fifth (and final!) home.
Case Study: Misdiagnosis of Separation Anxiety
Lexi was a ﬁve-year-old spayed female Husky/Greyhound mix in rescue, presented by the foster mom as having separation anxiety that manifested as destructive behavior. Lexi had been in several prior foster homes, none of which reported destructive behavior.
As we discussed Lexi’s behavior during her behavior consultation, the dog paced almost constantly, and displayed numerous other signs of general stress, including whining, attention-seeking, and exploring doorways, even though her current human was sitting quietly in a chair in the center of the room. Her behavior did not change signiﬁcantly when her human left the room.
The foster parent mentioned that she had noted a heightened anxiety when Lexi heard “mystery electronic beeping” in the house – probably ﬁ’om a watch hidden in a drawer that the owners were unable to locate. She also reportedly reacted badly to the beeps of other watches, cameras, and other electronic devices.
I concluded that while Lexi did, indeed, have anxiety problems, they were not separation-related, but rather a more generalized anxiety. While we have no way of knowing for sure, I surmised that at some point she may have been contained in an underground shock fence, and the beeping sounds that caused her heightened anxiety were similar to the warning beep of the fence. For a dog who has been trained to such a fence, the sound of the beep, through association with the shock, can be every bit as aversive and stress-causing at the shock itself.
We implemented a behavior modiﬁcation program for generalized anxiety that included partnering with a veterinarian for the administration of anxiety-relieving medication, and the foster parent made sure not to leave Lexi alone with access to the room where the mystery beeping occurred (the kitchen). Lexi was eventually adopted and is doing well in her new home, where her owners are continuing her behavior modiﬁcation program.
How to Treat Separation Anxiety in Dogs
There are a number of steps you can take to resolve your dog’s isolation- or separation-anxiety behavior. The program spelled out under “Preventing Separation Anxiety” below can also be used to modify an existing isolation/separation condition. However, you will progress much more slowly through the steps of the program with a dog who suffers from separation-related behaviors; your dog’s strong emotional response to being left alone will make this a much more challenging proposition.
Here are some other avenues to explore, to complement your modification work:
- Exercise your dog well before you leave. A tired dog has less energy with which to be anxious and destructive. End exercise sessions 20 to 30 minutes before you go, so he has time to settle down.
- Five minutes before you leave, give him a well-stuffed Kong to take his mind off your imminent departure.
- Make your departures and returns completely calm and emotionless. No huggy/kissy “Mummy loves you” scenes. If he gets excited and jumps all over you when you return, ignore him. Turn your back and walk away. When he finally settles down, say hello and greet him very calmly.
- Defuse the pieces of your departure routine by also doing them when you are not leaving. Pick up your car keys and sit down on the sofa to watch TV. Dress in your business suit and then cook dinner. Set your alarm for 5 a.m. on a Saturday, then roll over and go back to sleep.
- Mix up the pieces of your departure routine when you are leaving, so his anxiety doesn’t build to a fever pitch as he recognizes your departure cues. We are creatures of habit too, so this is hard to do, but can pay off in big dividends. Eat breakfast before you shower instead of after. Pick up your keys and put them in your pocket before you take your dog out for his final potty break. Put your briefcase in the car while you’re still in pajamas. Make the morning as unpredictable as possible.
- Use a “safe” cue such as “I’ll be back,” only when you know you’ll return within the time period your dog can tolerate. As suggested in Patricia McConnell’s wonderful booklet on separation anxiety titled “I’ll Be Home Soon,” this helps your dog relax, knowing he can trust you to return.
- Explore alternative dog-keeping situations to minimize the occasions when you do have to leave him alone – doggie daycare may be suitable for some dogs, but not for others. You may be able to find a neighbor or relative who is house-bound and might appreciate some canine companionship.
- If you are considering adoption of a second dog, try borrowing a calm, stable, compatible dog from a friend, to see if that helps to relieve your dog’s distress.
- Try using Comfort Zone (DAP) plug-ins and sprays in his environment to help ease his anxiety.
- Remove as many other stressors from your dog’s world as possible to help him maintain his equilibrium in your absence. No choke chains, shock collars, physical or harsh verbal punishment (especially in connection to his anxiety behaviors).
- Consider working with a behavior professional to be sure you’re on the right path – and to help you explore the possibilities of using anti-anxiety medications to maximize the effectiveness of your modification efforts.
Fixing separation anxiety is hard work. It’s all too easy to get frustrated with your dog’s destructive behavior. Remember that he’s not choosing to do it out of spite or malice – he is panicked about his own survival without you, his pack, there to protect him. It’s not fun for him, either; he lives in the moment, and the moments that you are gone are long and terrifying. If you make the commitment to modify his behavior and succeed in helping him be brave about being alone, you’ll not only save your home from destruction, you will enhance the quality of your dog’s life immensely – as well as your own – and perhaps save him from destruction, too.
Preventing Separation Anxiety in 10 Steps
The most important ingredient in a successful separation anxiety prevention program is to set your dog up for success. When you bring a new dog or puppy home, implement a program to help him be comfortable with being alone for gradually increasing periods. This will help to assure him that it’s not necessary to panic: you haven’t abandoned him; you always come back. Be sure to exercise him well before you practice; a tired dog is a much better candidate for relaxation than one who’s “full of it.”
Here are the 10 steps of a two-day program to create a dog who is comfortable being left alone. Note that if you are modifying an already existing distress or anxiety condition
you will need to work through the steps of the program much more slowly.
1. Bring your dog home at a time when someone can spend a few days with him to ease the stress of the transition.
2. Prepare a quiet, safe space in advance such as a playpen or puppy pen, or a dog-proofed room such as a laundry room.
3. When you bring your dog home, give him a chance to relieve himself outdoors, and spend 10 to 15 minutes with him in the house under close supervision. Then put him in his pen and stay in the room with him.
4. Stay close at ﬁrst. Read a book. If he fusses, ignore him. When he’s quiet, greet him calmly, take one step away, and then return before he has a chance to get upset. Speak to him calmly, then go back to reading. You’re teaching him that if you leave, you will return. Other family members should make themselves scarce during this time: your dog needs to learn to be alone.
5. Continue to occasionally step away, gradually increasing the distance and varying the length of time that you stay away, so that eventually you can wander around the room without upsetting your dog. Each time you return, greet him calmly. Every once in a while say “Yes!” in a calm but cheerful voice before you return to him, then walk back to the pen and feed him a treat.
6. After an hour or so, give him a break. Take him outside to potty and play. Hang out for a while. Then go back inside and resume his pen exercises.
7. Begin again, staying near the pen until he settles. More quickly this time, move along steps 4 and 5 until you can wander around the room without generating alarm. Now step
into another room very brieﬂy, and return before your dog has time to get upset. Gradually increase the length of time you stay out of the room, interspersing it with wandering around the room, sitting near him reading a book, and sitting across
the room reading a book. lf he starts to fuss, wait until he stops fussing to move back toward him. Teach him that calm behavior makes you return, fussing keeps you away.
8. Occasionally, step outside of the house. Your goal for the ﬁrst day is to get your dog comfortable with you being away from him for 15 to 20 minutes; it’s usually the ﬁrst 20 minutes of separation that are most difﬁcult. Vary the times so he doesn’t start anticipating your return. Remember to give him plenty of potty and play breaks: every hour for a young pup, every one to two hours for an older dog.
9. On the second day, quickly repeat the warm-up steps, until you can step outside for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, interspersed with shorter separations. On one of your outdoor excursions, hop into your car and drive around the block. Return in 5 to 10
minutes, and calmly re-enter the house just as you have been during the rest of the exercises. Hang out for a while, then go outside and drive away again, for a half-hour this time.
10. Now it’s time for Sunday brunch. Be sure your dog gets a thorough potty break and playtime, then give him 15 minutes to relax after the stimulation of play. Put a Kong stuffed with delightful treats into his pen, round up the family, and calmly exit the house for an outing of a couple of hours’ duration. When you arrive home to a calm and happy dog, drink an orange juice toast to your graduation from separation anxiety prevention school.
Time Alone for Dogs: There is a Limit
It’s unfair to ask a young dog to stay home alone for 5 to 10 hours; he needs to get out to relieve himself midway through the day. If you force him to soil in the home, at worst you can cause stress-related behaviors, at best you may create house-training problems. Options may include taking him to work with you, having family members come home on their lunch hour, arranging for stay-at-home neighbors to take him out, hiring a pet walker to walk him and play with him, or sending him to a well-run doggie daycare environment. (Note: The daycare option is not appropriate for a very young pup.)
If you set up a routine to help your dog succeed, he’ll someday earn his Master’s Degree in Home Alone, and be trusted with full house freedom. lt may be too late for some dog owners to say they’ve never had a dog with separation anxiety, but it’s never too late to say “never again”!
DOGS WITH SEPARATION ANXIETY: OVERVIEW
1. Take steps to prevent separation anxiety in your new dog by conditioning him to accept being left alone.
2. Assess your dog’s anxious behaviors (destructive behavior, vocalization, and inappropriate elimination) to determine if the behaviors might have a cause other than separation anxiety.
3. Understand that your dog’s difficult behavior is not deliberate, and that punishment is ineffective, inappropriate, and will only exacerbate the behavior.
Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, is WDJ’s Training Editor. Miller lives in Hagerstown, Maryland, site of her Peaceable Paws training center. Pat is also author of The Power of Positive Dog Training; Positive Perspectives: Love Your Dog, Train Your Dog; Positive Perspectives II: Know Your Dog, Train Your Dog, and the brand-new Dog Play: How and Why to Play With Your Dog.
My dog jumps on me excessively when I come home.Difficult to make her stop.
She’s relieved to see you because it eases her separation anxiety.
This might surprise you, but look into pack leader training. When a dog accepts you as the pack leader, the separation anxiety will no longer exist. You see, the primary job of a pack leader is to protect and direct the pack. One of the things that pack leaders influence is movement. Which is why us coming and going from our homes can trigger the dogs anxiety. When she 100% accepts you as the pack leader, she will be able to relax at home. You can find a fantastic guide on this if you Google: “123 Recall Method” – Hope this helps.
Actually, the pack leader stuff has been pretty resoundingly scientifically debunked. True Separation Anxiety is a serious, significant behavioral issue and a dog who suffers from it needs real help from a very qualified behavior professional.
Jumping on you when you get home, however, doesn’t sound like real separation anxiety, and there are lots of ways to modify that behavior that don’t rely on outdated, debunked pack leader theory. If you search back WDJ articles I’m sure you will find several that can help you.
Hi! I have a question i have a puppy of about 4 months, and when he was about seven weeks i was at my sisters and left him in everybodys care so i could go to the ladies room. And while i was gone he mistaked my sisters dog who happened to be suffering from problems of her own that are currently being worked on. for his mom who is of similiar stature amd the same breed so it wasnt really surprising but he scared her and she attacked him and actually hutt him really bad. Hes fully heeled now and back to his energetic self. But he does have slight seperation anxiety eber since this happened. Its not major but i dont want it turning major. I think it happening while i was gone was a major playing point in the situation. But how would you suggest i go about making him feel safe, and not whine out to me when he is unable to see me. Hes still very adventurous as he was before and is fine walking off by himself. But he gets just this mass anxiety when im the one to walk away. Even though ive only had him from 7 weeks to now hes my bestfriend 💘 and it breaks my heart that he gets so scared even though he has my moms cats conayantly with him. And i dont have any other dogs that could trigger such actions.
Leave her with something that has your scent. A dogs love for their owner’s scent is a miracle cure.
Leave her with something that has your smell on it. A dogs love for their owner’s smell is a miracle cure.
I have a 17 month old black lab. When my husband and son leave for work there really isn’t a problem. She just wakes me up. But When I try to leave and she’ll be home alone usually no more than 2 hours. It’s a big problem. She’s not destructive at all. The problem is trying to get out the door. She jumps on me, squeezes past me and out the door she goes. It can take me 15 to 20 minutes to get her to let me leave. It’s very stressful for both of us. She ignores treats and toys. She is just so determined to stopping me from leaving her.
You need to leave her with something that has your scent. It’s scientifically proven to help.
Do gradual separations as described in the article. And yes, leaving her with something that has your scent can be helpful.
I have the same problem
Have u any tips and how are u working on this
My 2 year old mixed bout Murphy is in a crate when we leave home. He will soil the crate once he hears me pull into the driveway. He will sometimes jump around and force the crate to move. Today he ate my dining room rug! Im trying to calm him but his anxiety when I come home is the problem.
I know what you mean
My 13 week old puppy is not happy in her crate she cries constantlyAny suggestions would be helpful
Thank you for writing this article my wife and I have just begun our research into trying to help our dog overcome her anxiety.
Our mini Aussie gets plenty of exercise and we go to work we leave her with a Kong of kibble with a little bit of peanut butter to help keep her busy until the dog walker comes. This strategy was working fine for all of last school year. My wife and I are both teachers and have a much more sporadic work schedule during the summer. Now that we are transitioning back to school she is doing a lot of nervous panting and is most comfortable under the couch or bed.
We have moved her crate from the bed room, to the hallway just out side the bed room and then to the main floor of the house this summer. She will go in the crate on command but she has that worried look on her face and seems to take much longer to settle down. Even if we bump into the crate she gets anxious and doesn’t want to interact with us.
We have tried using the crate as a part of her training routine but when we do she is barely motivated by what used to be jackpot treats.
I think our next step may be to either bring the crate back up to our bed room where it smells the most like us, or just let her have roam of the house while we are gone which we had done before with out incident.
I have 3 resques…2 Chorkies and ne Staffi Boxer cross.
One Chorkie in particular has a problem with me leaving. Even when I lived with my Stepson he used to howl for a while when I left….he was not alone as Stepson was there plus the other 2 dogs.
Now the 3 dogs and myself live alone together.
I spend nearly all my time with them…they are left for about 4 hours at least 2 times a week. Neighbour has told me that one of the Chorkies (Oscar) howls while I’m away, as he did when left with my Stepson. He’s not alone he is with the other dogs who do not howl.
Need advice for him…
Thank you. Love my three year old dog I adopted from the Humane Society. He has severe separation anxiety. Never will give him up!!
I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT, whenever I take him for walks, we have problems. He hates other dogs and other people sometimes even growls at us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!
Watch Kaelin Munklewitz’s videos on YouTube. She is so great with dogs, especially those that are reactive to other people and dogs. My dog is a rescue that was attacked by dogs before being picked up by animal control and her methods have helped me a lot to help him learn to walk safely and calmly when dogs are around.
I have a 9 year old rescue dog she is 9 years old we have had her 3 months, and my husband and I went out together for the fist time when we came home she ripped the carpet what can we do
Hi I have a Yorker who I rehomed five years ago. She is 10 now and has always suffered desperation anxiety but has gradually got worse. She has anxiety attacks in the car now and when we go out. We’ve moved to Spain and she has chewed the doorways etc so we take her everywhere. We are considering medication. Any advice
When I saw your dog’s age, I thought of my July Hound, Buttercup. She ate drywall…lots of drywall. Buttercup was special, a once abused rescue. As Buttercup entered her senior years, she developed Sundowner’s Syndrome. My vet prescribed a low dose of Valium for her. That calmed her anxiety and made her last years much easier on both of us. I had to put her down Aug. 18 due to cancer. I miss her terribly, but I’m glad that I could ease her senior years.
When I first got my Choc Lab, she would whine & throw herself against the door if I dared to leave her alone! One time she broke the lock & was wandering down the street when (luckily) a neighbor saw her & took her home. Had the lock fixed, put one of those chain slide lock thingies on the outside in case she broke the lock again (never did). Now I leave the TV on (either classical music or regular programming) plus a Kong w/small treats & peanut butter smeared on the top. Believe it or not, this worked so well that when I was getting ready to leave, she would bring her Kong & drop it at my feet. She didn’t care that I was leaving, she did care that I filled her Kong w/goodies. Never had an issue again.
I adopted an 8 yr old dog with behavioral issues that made the family hate him. When he came to me they said they had never seen him so happy. Anyway. Turned out he had separation anxiety when left home alone but I found if I let him have space to be at both entry doors he stopped barking and howling. I watch him on cameras and he mostly sleeps. I also leave tv or radio on. BUT taking him in the car is bad. He is ok while driving but as soon as I stop the car he starts barking and howling and does not stop. If he can see me he’s not as bad. I can leave him in the car in the driveway and he is quiet. But not anywhere else. I don’t know what to do or if it’s too late at now age 9. This really limits my ability to take him
Anywhere with me as I have always done with our other dogs
I suppose it’s a bit risky to offer suggestions with limited knowledge of the situation, but here is an idea to consider. So many times dogs can develop a negative association with car rides because it means they are going to the vet. Or, since you have adopted an older dog, he could have had a REALLY bad experience(s) in the car (attacked by another dog, been in a car accident, scary noise . . . who knows). The idea is to get him to associate rides in the car with AMAZING good things happening. Would you be able to drive to the nearest fast-food restaurant, go through the drive-through and order a plain cheeseburger for him? If no food sensitivities, pull through and park. Start feeding in tiny bites (so it lasts a longer). Then, immediately drive back home. You also need to consider what is really reinforcing to your dog. Does he like to play with other dogs? If so, try to make a play date with a dog you know he enjoys playing with. Ideally that would involve a very short car ride initially. Does he go crazy for new toys? Figure out how you could make that the really cool thing that happens with a car ride. The big thing is to make the time in the car as short as possible to start off the training. Gradually increase the length of the trip (perhaps go to a fast-food restaurant drive-through that is further away), but throw in occasional short, fun trips, so that relieves some of the pressure, too. Hope this helps . . . and bless you for adopting an older dog! 🙂
I second what Marty said! I would also suggest slowly desensitizing him to being parked so take him in the car (bring LOTS of treats with you) drive around the block or down the street or whatever for a few minutes and then (if he’s okay in the driveway) park where he can see the house (on the street) and give lots of treats, pets, and praise. Repeat this but this time after treats, hop out of the car and move a little ways away, then come right back and give more treats. Slowly extend this to being further and further away from home, taking baby steps so he learns that nothing about being in a stopped car, with you or alone, is something to be concerned about.
I have a 5 month old Siberian husky. Had him since 8 weeks. Super friendly towards people and very calm when outside on a leash. When at home his energy is off the roof. He hates his crate and when I leave him at home for work he chews through the doorframe tv stand or the window blinds. What can I do to help improve his separation or anxiety?
I, too, have a husky and she has been crate trained since around 10-12 weeks (she is now 3). Never have had an issue with her in her crate until now. I started taking her on longer walks and do mental stimulation before I leave. I tried to leave her out of her crate a few times and she chewed up door frames, cabinets and ruined a baby gate. When she was around your pups age, she was so energetic but fine in her crate. I would just make sure he is getting enough exercise before you leave. Also I was lucky and my cousin worked a block away from my house and my neighbor is home for lunch everyday so they took turns letting her out and taking her on short walks until she was a little over a year old. I think this helped a lot. Also- freezing PB in a Kong is helpful too.
My little terrier is a rescue. We have had her for about 10 years. She has always had anxiety and she’s always had a variety of health issues…sensitive stomach, allergies, torn and repaired acls and back injury. The torn acls and back injury are both due to behavior because of anxiety. Now, suddenly, she is so severely affected by separation anxiety that she is almost dangerous…not to us, but to herself. She also defecates and urinates when you wouldn’t believe there was one more drop of anything to be had…she’s already been to the bathroom and fed earlier. She will then walk back and forth in all of the mess (we have watched her on cameras…..) and never rest. Due to the extremity of the mess and her ability to disregard any harm to herself, we have come to a point of isolating her in one room along with our 3 cats (she likes them and they provide company). But like the true separation anxiety, it makes no matter….I am her object of attachment. I HAVE to be there. We have made arrangements (though difficult sometimes) to take her most places with us. She even comes to church in a bag (incognito….). I have bought a stroller for her so that she can come shopping, etc. Sometimes, however, this plan of attack will not work….doctor appointments for example. Her latest development is that she actually is breaking out in sores on her face and head. I didn’t realize they were related to anxiety until I observed the ebb and flow with their appearance. One that may be almost completely healed will become swollen and bright red by the time we come home from a short excursion. Incidentally, when we do leave her in the one room, the whole place has to be papered and every paper weighted down, otherwise we will be scrubbing the floor from all of the dried excrement that has been walked everywhere. I truly believe this will be the death of her and I can’t even remember what it was like a mere few months ago to casually walk out my door to do anything. We are a family with two children and we are active and need to take our children places and this is much like having a third child with a severe disorder. I’m sorry for going on and on, but I am going crazy with this problem and none of the suggestions I’m reading here seem like they could ever work. She has never been food motivated and I don’t care what or who would be put in the room with her, if I’m not there, she is a maniac……Do you have any thoughts on this matter? Thank you and God bless!
I recently adopted 2 young poodles ages 2 & 3. Am They constantly jump on me and I can take them out all day but I always find someone peed in the house. One is Male and one female. They both do the same. They seem to have separation anxiety issues as they can’t leave my side. I’m exhausted trying to occupy their time all day (I’m retired) so they are never alone. I’m ready to give up. I have had them over 3 months and have tried several things. I cannot afford a trainer. Help. Ready to surrender.
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I know this is off subject but I just wanted to ask.
Thanks a lot!
I have two dogs, about six years old. We adopted them back in September. Brother and Sister-from a home that kept them both in the same kennel ALL the time. I take the dogs one at a time for walks, because together they’re both too much for me to handle on my own. The male dog will bark the entire time I take his sister for a walk, but she’ll bark a little bit and then stop. I did have a worn sweatshirt for my dogs, but after some messes in their kennels had to throw them out. The male dog does like to jump up he really likes to hug a lot. I usually give him a hug to let him know he’s ok, and I will be back, but would that be making the separation anxiety worse? I have been trying to them bark it out at night, because they started barking at like 3:30 in the morning. I do have anxiety drops that I’d give the male in the mornings in his water, but seems like they just want to eat snow more than to drink their water right now.
I am first time dog owner-so owning two dogs is a lot.
My 2.5 year old Labradoodle has a lot of isolation distress and barks constantly when I am at work, it had been stressing me out and I have done a lot of things including – using a spray collar, desensitizing, tiring her out every morning. But I am not sure what else to do. I have received several complaints and I am almost having a nervous breakdown. I just don’t know what to do anymore. She is the sweetest pup and cannot imagine giving her up, I have already moved once because of this. Please help if anyone has had any similar situations and what did you do.
I have an issue with our 1 yr old Pit rescue. Max was a neglect and abuse case for the first 10 months of his life. He is a super sweet dog, food motivated, and pretty happy most of the time. The problem we’re having is he has either isolation distress or separation anxiety. I’m leaning toward isolation distress because he seems to do well when someone is with him. The problem is that my wife and I don’t want to give him complete access to the house while we’re gone and we prefer leaving him in a crate. He has broken out of the wire crate and chewed on a door so we bought a Ruffland Crate. The problem is that now he doesn’t want to go into his crate…..ever. When we finally get him in there he becomes frantic, even if we’re right there on the floor by the crate or in bed in sight of the crate. It takes up to 30 minutes before he gives up and sleeps. We know he cant break out of this crate because it pretty much escape proof but we’re worried he may develop extreme stress behaviors and possibly harm himself. We don’t know what else to try. He’s on anti anxiety meds (low dose), CBD treats, pheromone collars and diffuser, and we even have sweater for him. I’m sure his terrible past is playing into his current issues but we don’t know how to factor that into our training approach. The last thing we want to do is make something worse for him. How can we get him comfortable with his crate so we can leave the house without him every once in a while?
I have a 10 year old daschund mix and he is making me a prisoner in my home. He has never liked for ME to be out of his site. We got him when he was 8 weeks old and I tended to him mostly. We had another small dog who was 3 at the time and they became good friends and when separated for grooming or vet visits the one left at home would sit and howl. Max is really sweet when I am home which is most of the time, he follows me to bathroom, lays in front of shower while I am in it, and just generally doesn’t want to be anywhere I’m not. In November I had to put the older one (13 years) down due to health issues. When we went to my daughters house he played fine with her dog but when crated so I can go some where he barks constantly until I get back.
Since he was potty trained he has always had run of the house, VERY RARELY he has messed on the floor and I thought he was just punishing me. I have recently had to purchase a kennel because he did it the two times I left him recently. I had to leave him for less than an hour recently and he deficated in his kennel which he has not done since he was a puppy. I give him treats, turn radio on and he just goes nuts, barking, and digging at kennel. Recently got camera and I can see him when I am away is why I know what he does. I am a senior citizen so dealing with all this is definitely stressing me out!!!
I have tried calming chews, calming oils, benadryl, calming collar. You name it I’ve tried it, and NOTHING works!!!! When I am here he is fine. I will be moving into an apartment soon and I don’t want to be a prisoner in it because he is this way. Have considered putting him down.
I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much, but he barks A LOT… So, leaving home is always a challenge for us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!
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Wow, it’s really amazing. I’m also working on the same project of dogs food and dog breeding.
Thanks for your tip about letting my dog exercise a lot before I leave the house so he’ll be too tired to throw a fuss. Although this might work for my morning classes, this might not be effective once I leave for a student conference next week. It might be a good idea to explore dog boarding facilities around our area and see if I can leave him there for three days.
Great Post! Got some insight for my dog as lately she was behaving little odd. Was not able to understand and going to vet during such pandemic I was skeptical. However, your blog helped me. Thanks Pat.
I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much, but he barks A LOT… So, leaving home is always a challenge for us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!
My Dog and I have always lived alone. He is 8 and a boxer mix. When ever I turn on shower water he shuts completely down. Shakes and all bc he relates that to me leaving home. I do shower and stay home also so he will know I’m not always leaving. He is pitiful and it breaks my heart. I’m leaving town soon..gotta board him for 4 days. I have him the thundershirt to help him but I know too he will NOT eat while I’m away. Hard to enjoy trip knowing my 90 lbs buddy is grieving like he does.
It is becoming clear that my 13 yr old really healthy staffy X will never grow out of her being alone anxiety problems. She does everything to get out of the yard, cant be left in the house coz she wrecks it trying to get out. She cry’s and barks. I don’t want to pass her on to anyone else with her having this problem. I love her, and think that would be even more confusing for her at her age.
I am considering putting her down, it’s breaking my heart, but she is not happy unless she is with me, I have to go to work, and there is no one to stay with her now. I am thinking it may be kinder to put her down, she has had a good life but not so much now there is no one with her through the day. Oh dear, what to do?
My buddy told me to buy the Arizer Extreme Q, do you think that is a smart decision for a newbie?
I recently purchased a Buddha Vaporizer and it works like a charm