Separation Anxiety


by Tony Wolfe

Dogs are very social, and when they are alone, they can sometimes become restless and nervous or even panic. Dogs with separation anxiety may destroy things (themselves included, try to escape, bark and/or have housetraining accidents. He does not do these things “to get back at you for leaving”, he is simply venting nervous energy in the only way he can. For some dogs, being alone for even a few seconds is terrifying. You will need to teach your dog that it is okay to be alone in small, easy steps (Baby Steps). If your dog is so fearful that he is in danger of hurting himself, consider finding a Veterinary Behaviorist to help you with this anxiety.

The most difficult part of this training program is avoiding going past your dog’s current comfort level for being left alone during your daily routine. For example, if today your dog is nervous about being alone for more than 5 minutes, try not to leave him for more than 5 minutes. Each time your dog is left longer than he is comfortable, you will be setting your progress back. However, If you must leave your dog for longer than he is ready for, find some way to take him with you or leave him with a friend or at a doggy daycare.


  •    Practice getting your jacket, keys, etc. at random times throughout the day to teach him that this is no big deal.
  •    Practice positive training for tricks or obedience to help build his confidence.
  •    Make sure your dog has 30 min to 1 hour of exercise per day to help him to relax when you are gone.
  •    Reinforce calm behavior by giving him extra attention when he is relaxed.
  • See your veterinarian to rule out underlying medical cause or for additional help. Sometimes medication is needed to help your dog get through this.
  •    Feed him the healthiest diet that you can afford.
  • Use KONGS, DAP’s (Dog Appeasing Pheromone), Anxiety Wraps, are just some items to hep with S/A.
  • Create a new “Safe Zone”. Record yourself talking (like reading a book). Place your dog in his Safe Zone, give him his chewy and play your recording. When he is calmly chewing, sneak out of the room, get your keys, and exit your home for just a second. Return to the room at the end of a gradually increasing time period. When you return, switch off the recorder and calmly enter his area. Ignore him until he is relaxed. If when you return you see signs of anxiety, cut the time you stay away in half next time. If when you repeat, he’s still experiencing separation anxiety, cut your time in half again!Once your dog is no longer anxious, start increasing the times again.

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