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Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation anxiety manifests in dogs as a stress response triggered when a strong bond exists between the dog and a person, and that person is absent from home or not nearby the pet. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety may display various reactions when left alone, ranging from pacing and drooling to engaging in destructive behaviors. However, it’s essential to recognize that these behaviors could also stem from other health conditions or environmental factors. Therefore, scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian is crucial to rule out any underlying health issues initially. Subsequently, seeking the guidance of a behaviorist or veterinarian to assess your dog’s history becomes imperative before attributing separation anxiety as the primary or sole cause of the observed behaviors.

Symptoms and Types

Signs of separation anxiety in dogs usually manifest within the first hour after you depart from the house, although some dogs may display stress-related behaviors even as you get ready to leave. Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs encompass:

  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Shaking
  • Barking
  • Trying to shadow the owner
  • Eliminating waste inside the house (defecating or urinating)
  • Certain dogs may lose their appetite, show signs of depression, seek hiding spots, or whimper. In severe cases, they might harm themselves while attempting to break free from confinement.


To accurately diagnose separation anxiety in dogs, it’s crucial to recognize that other behavioral conditions could imitate some of the symptoms associated with it. Therefore, recording the timing, frequency, and intensity of the dog’s reactions becomes essential.

For instance, if a dog eliminates indoors both when the owner is present and when the owner is away, it may indicate incomplete house-training rather than separation anxiety.

A visit to the veterinarian serves to eliminate any undiagnosed medical issues that might mirror behaviors associated with separation anxiety, such as drooling and shaking. When visiting the veterinarian, it’s advisable to bring along a detailed log documenting when the behaviors occur, their frequency, and intensity. Providing this information offers valuable background insight for your vet to better understand the issue at hand.


The objective of treating separation anxiety in dogs is to reduce their dependence on you and promote relaxation when you are away from home.

Mild Separation Anxiety

For dogs experiencing mild separation anxiety, implementing the following strategies could prove beneficial:

Physical activity: Enhancing your dog’s daily exercise routine can aid in promoting relaxation during periods of solitude. Engaging in longer walks in different environments, interactive play sessions, or participating in training exercises can help mentally stimulate your dog and alleviate anxiety before you leave the house.

Interactive toys: Providing your dog with interactive toys filled with treats can redirect their focus and alleviate separation distress in your absence. Encouraging your dog to engage with these toys can offer a sense of comfort and distraction during periods of solitude.

Severe Separation Anxiety

Dogs suffering from severe separation anxiety will likely require behavior modification to fundamentally alter their perception of alone time. Dealing with intense separation anxiety demands a methodical and gradual approach.

This comprehensive training regimen involves incrementally building your dog’s confidence, starting with brief intervals to prevent stress reactions and advancing at a pace that suits your dog. The process may entail leaving your pet alone for short periods initially, gradually extending the duration over time. Begin by moving to another room and gradually progress to stepping outside the home, using enticing training treats and praise as positive reinforcement when your pet remains calm.

Consistency is paramount when addressing separation anxiety behaviors. Seeking assistance from a trainer specializing in separation anxiety treatment or a veterinarian behaviorist is crucial for guidance and support.

While antidepressants or anxiety medications can be prescribed for dogs with separation anxiety, optimal results require their use in conjunction with a structured training plan to help your dog adapt to being alone. Holistic supplements may also prove beneficial when combined with behavioral training, whether or not prescribed medications are used.

Treatment is a gradual process, and owners should be prepared to adjust their dog’s daily routine and environment as they navigate through separation anxiety training protocols. This may involve reorganizing schedules to ensure someone is always present with the dog, or alternatively, finding reliable daycare services or hiring an in-home pet sitter if constant supervision is not feasible.

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