top of page

Dog Separation Anxiety: Preventing and Treating the Fear

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

A pug wrapped up in a brown blanket on a bed looking sad.
Dog Separation Anxiety

Why does your pet have dog separation anxiety? The reasons can vary, but it's important to recognize the signs and take steps to prevent or treat this fear.

In the following blog post, our CanineJulz team will cover the common causes of dog separation anxiety as well as prevention and treatment options.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Dog Separation Anxiety?

  2. Why Does My Dog Have This Fear?

  3. 6 Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Anxious

  4. How Can I Find Out If My Dog Has Separation Anxiety?

  5. Are There Different Types of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

  6. 10 Common Symptoms of Dog Separation Anxiety

  7. The Dos and Don'ts of Preventing and Treating of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

People Also Ask:

Can you cure dog separation anxiety?

Training, natural supplements and anti-anxiety medications can help reduce anxiety and help your dog cope with separation from you and other family members. They may also help make treatment easier. Medications only have been known to benefit dogs with mild separation anxiety on rare occasions. Please check with your trusted local veterinarian before administering medication.

Which dog breeds have separation anxiety?

Anxiousness can happen in any pup. But the following breeds are more prone to separation anxiety:

  • Labrador Retrievers

  • Border Collies

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

  • Jack Russell Terriers

  • German Shepherds

  • Australian Shepherds

  • Bichon Frisé

  • Vizslas

  • German Shorthaired Pointers

  • Toy Poodles

Should you crate a dog with separation anxiety?

It depends. Crate training is often recommended for puppies or dogs with separation anxiety that are used to or do well in a crate. Having an isolated place where he or she can rest can also prevent them from being destructive around your home.

Be sure to talk to your trainer before crate training, especially if your dog shows signs of anxiety.

How long does separation anxiety last in dogs?

Separation anxiety in dogs usually occurs between 9-12 months of age. If not treated, separation anxiety can not only get worse, but it can last for the rest of their life.

How can I calm my dog's anxiety naturally?

You need to first understand the source of your dog’s separation anxiety to apply effective treatment. While anxiety or fear can result from being confined, left alone, or loud noises, some dogs are just naturally anxious.

The good news is that our dog training classes and getting plenty of exercise can help most forms of anxiety.

What is Dog Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety in dogs is a condition that causes dogs to show signs of distress and behavior problems when separated from their owners.

This usually happens within minutes of separation, but it's not fully understood why some dogs suffer from it while others don't.

Why Does My Dog Have This Fear?

A key factor in dog separation anxiety is their relationship with you.

When your furry friend is separated from you, they may be trying to cope by relying on instinctual behaviors, such as:

  • Avoiding conflict

  • Forming social connections

This can lead to dogs who become more clingy or even aggressive while being left alone.

6 Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Anxious

Dogs with a high level of dependency may also develop separation anxiety. Young pups are more likely to develop excessive attachments for multiple reasons.

These can include:

  1. Traumatic events (such as neglect or abuse).

  2. Early separation from the mother and/or litter before 7 weeks old.

  3. Sudden or frequent changes in the living situation during the socialization period with humans or other animals.

  4. Time kept in a shelter, pet stores, or crated for long periods of time.

  5. Fearfulness due to an addition of a new pet or baby into the household.

  6. Lack of early bonding or imprinting with owners or other animals.

Whatever the reason for your pet's anxiety, our certified dog trainer, Julie, provides specialty classes built on our successful dog training philosophy!

How Can I Find Out If My Dog Has Separation Anxiety?

Only your veterinarian can officially diagnose anxiety in your dog. They can also do this by looking at your pet’s overall health.

Kidney disease or other illnesses may be affecting your pup’s behavior and make feel bad. This may make them more anxious when separated from you.

Your vet:

  • Should ask you when you first noticed separation anxiety symptoms

  • Will determine if their anxiety is a new or existing condition

  • Can help figure out separation anxiety triggers and treatment

  • May run a blood test to rule out other health issues

Are There Different Types of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

Yes. Most vets and other animal specialists agree that the different types of separation anxiety in dogs are: Transitional, Permanent, and Conditional anxiety.

  • Transitional anxiety usually occurs in adolescent dogs and for about 4 to 6 weeks. It can be hard on any pet owner, but it’s important that you’re patient and stay calm during treatment.

  • Permanent anxiety typically happens during the fear impact stage and is likely permanent. This is when dogs experience the lasting effects of early exposure to traumatic events.

  • Conditional anxiety can occur at any age and is likely triggered by changes in their environment such as a new baby, home, etc.

10 Common Symptoms of Dog Separation Anxiety

It's important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and understand what’s normal and not normal for them.

For example, your pup can be a light eater but not eating altogether can be a clear sign of anxiety.

Ten common signs of separation anxiety in dogs include:

  1. Excessive barking and howling, especially when left alone.

  2. Destructive behavior (scratching, chewing, eating things they shouldn't).

  3. Constant pacing, crying, or whining.

  4. Urinating and/or defecating in the house.

  5. Shivering.

  6. Running away, cowering, or hiding.

  7. Digging up or escaping the yard.

  8. Self-mutilation such as licking, chewing fur off their skin or tail.

  9. Biting and growling at people.

  10. Fighting with other dogs or animals.

Julie and the rest of the CanineJulz team know the telltale signs of separation anxiety in dogs. We provide immersive training retreats to help conquer separation anxiety and create healthy habits, house manners, and routines.

The Dos and Don'ts of Preventing and Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Sometimes, when your dog experiences a significant change in lifestyle they can become fearful of it happening again.

It’s important to remember that dogs, like people, don’t always do well with change. It can take time and patience to get your four-legged friend feeling normal and safe again.

Here are the dos and don'ts when it comes to helping prevent anxiety in your dog:

The Do's:

Enrolling your pup in an obedience class or program. The right course will help you create consistency and confidence with your dog.

Developing a low-key departure routine. Checking windows and doors, or picking up your purse and keys without bringing attention to it can help reduce separation anxiety in your dog.

Give them something that smells like you. A towel, shirt, or blanket of yours can really provide your pup some comfort when you’re not home.

Teach your canine a safety action or word. Dogs are smart. They’ll understand words like “break-time” means you’ll be right back. And “leaving” means you’ll be gone longer, but will return.

Exercise or walk your furry friend before you leave and when you come home. This helps them understand the difference in your departure routines, which can reduce anxiety.

Ignore your dog for 30 minutes before you leave, and when you come home. Don’t make coming and going a big deal by saying things like “hello” or “goodbye.” It might be difficult at first, but it’s necessary!

The Don'ts:

Do not use punishment to handle separation anxiety in your dog. Punishing them can actually make their anxiety and fear worse.

Don’t crate your anxious pup unless they’re used to a crate. Our team at CanineJulz only recommends crating your dog when housebreaking or if you know they’ll benefit from a calm and secure environment.

Do not get another dog or pet. If you have an older dog that's experiencing separation anxiety from your absence, adding another animal into your home is not recommended.

Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?

CanineJulz Can Help!

Separation anxiety is one of the most common behavioral concerns in dogs and can be a serious problem for you and your canine companion. Luckily, separation anxiety has a high success rate of being treated!

At CanineJulz, our founder, and certified dog trainer, Julie, offers training classes that focus on helping you and your dog overcome separation anxiety.

Contact our team to receive a custom consultation and evaluation today!

525 views0 comments


bottom of page