Dealing With Separation Anxiety

1 min read

Dealing With Separation Anxiety

What is it?
A canine disorder related to being left alone, ranging in severity from mild anxiety to outright panic attacks.

What can trigger it?
Big contrasts. After working from home for months, you start going into the office eight hours a day.

Big changes. Being re-homed or spending a long time in a shelter, moving to a new house, a significant change in routine (divorce, child going off to college), etc.

Signs of mild separation anxiety.
Your dog follows you around when you get ready to leave, looking dejected.

Your dog’s greetings when you return are over-the-top. A half-hour absence gets you a welcome befitting a year’s separation.

What to do.
Improve your dog’s association with alone-time. Only feed him in Kongs and treat balls and only when you leave. Favorite toys come out just before you leave and go away again when you return.

Be casual on your return. Not cold, of course, but don’t throw your dog a party when you get home. Avoid amplifying the contrast between your presence and your absence.

Break down long absences. If work has you away from home for eight hours at a time, hire a dog walker or enroll your dog in a doggie daycare.

Signs of severe separation anxiety:

  • When the dog is left alone:
  • Excessive barking/howling.
  • Destructiveness, especially at points of entry: Doors, windows.
  • Not eating, even favorite foods.
  • House-soiling by house-trained adult dog.
  • Breaking out.
  • Self-mutilation.

What to do:

Call a trainer right away.