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Signs Your Dog Might Have Separation Anxiety:

Updated: Apr 11

Introduction: For many of us, our dogs are more than just pets; they're cherished members of our families. So, when our furry friends exhibit distressing behaviours, such as destructive chewing, excessive barking, or soiling indoors, it can be concerning and frustrating. One common underlying cause of such behaviours is separation anxiety. Understanding the signs of separation anxiety in dogs is crucial for providing them with the support and care they need.

What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs? Separation anxiety is a behavioural disorder characterised by excessive fear or distress when a dog is separated from its owner or left alone. It's essential to recognise that dogs with separation anxiety are not misbehaving out of spite; instead, they are experiencing genuine panic and anxiety in response to being separated from their primary attachment figure.

Signs of Separation Anxiety:

1.     Destructive Behaviour: Dogs with separation anxiety may engage in destructive behaviours, such as chewing furniture, scratching doors, or destroying household items, particularly in areas where their owners spend the most time or near exit points like doors and windows.

2.     Excessive Vocalisation: Barking, howling, or whining excessively when left alone is a common sign of separation anxiety. These vocalisations are often continuous and may persist for the duration of the owner's absence.

3.     Inappropriate Elimination: Even house-trained dogs may urinate or defecate indoors when experiencing separation anxiety. This behaviour is not due to a lack of house-training but rather a response to the overwhelming distress of being left alone.

4.     Pacing and Restlessness: Some dogs with separation anxiety exhibit restless behaviour, pacing back and forth or circling anxiously, unable to settle down in the absence of their owner.

5.     Escape Attempts: Dogs may attempt to escape confinement or the home in an effort to reunite with their owner. This behaviour can result in injury or property damage.

6.     Excessive Salivation: Drooling excessively when left alone is another common sign of separation anxiety in dogs. You might notice wet spots on the floor or furniture where the dog has been resting.

7.     Depression or Apathy: In some cases, dogs with separation anxiety may display signs of depression or apathy, showing little interest in activities they usually enjoy when left alone.

Addressing Separation Anxiety: If you suspect that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, it's essential to seek guidance from a qualified separation anxiety behaviourist. Here are some strategies that may help alleviate your dog's separation anxiety:

1.     Gradual Desensitisation: Gradually acclimatise your dog to being alone by leaving them alone for short periods and gradually increasing the duration over time.

2.     Counterconditioning: Use positive reinforcement techniques to change your dog's emotional response to being alone.

3.     Environmental Enrichment: Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation for your dog, both when you're home and when you're away.

4.     Medication: These medications can help reduce anxiety levels and facilitate behaviour modification. Please note Vets will only prescribe these medications under the guidance of a behaviourist.

5.     Professional Guidance: Work with a qualified behaviourist who can develop a personalised behaviour modification plan tailored to your dog's specific needs. They can provide guidance and support throughout the process of addressing separation anxiety.

Conclusion: Recognising the signs of separation anxiety in your dog is the first step towards helping them lead a happier, more fulfilling life. By understanding their needs and providing appropriate support and intervention, you can help alleviate their anxiety and strengthen the bond between you and your beloved canine companion. Remember, patience, consistency, and compassion are key when addressing separation anxiety in dogs.

If you need help that really works contact Zoe here to have a happy calm dog


Zoe is a qualified and accredited behaviourist with a specialisation in Separation Anxiety.

Still not sure? Take a look at one of Zoe's case studies...

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