Separation Anxiety in Dogs — The Hardest Of All Behaviors To Fix

A friend online (in a private Jiu Jitsu forum I host) had a question about separation anxiety, and a few others chimed in, also:

Trixie writes: “I have some friends that moved here back in July. The moving process took them a while, they had a new born and had to make several trips between states. They had to leave their dog with various friends for days at a time. Now that they are here and settled in their new house their dog (she’s a 7yr old, boxer mix) has started tearing their house up when they leave for a few hours. They put her in a travel kennel a few times and she eventually chewed a hole big enough to climb through. She’s chewed and clawed the door frames on 3-4 doors and done some other damage. The wife told me that when she loads up the kids to go anywhere the dog starts shaking like she’s terrified. The husband is pretty much fed up with her and wants to get rid of her. Any suggestions or thoughts? The wife and 3 year old son don’t want to give her away.”


Adam replies: “It’s separation anxiety.  The hardest of all behaviors to fix.

Tell them:

– Ignore the dog for 10 minutes before leaving and after coming home.
– Buy a heavy duty crate.
– Try the DAP Diffuser (see: Amazon)
– Talk to vet about Clomicalm
– Keep the dog in the crate while they’re home, frequently.

It’s a long term therapy kind of thing.  Did the dog have this behavior before they moved?”


Trixie adds: “I’m not sure, but from what they’ve said she did do a little of that before they moved. They said they had to repair some minor things to their old house that she had messed up so they could sell it.

Thank you wo much  for the suggestions. I will pass them on. I’m trying to not get too involved, cause its not my business, but I hate to see people get rid of a perfectly good dog and not try to work with her. I figure if they do give her away she’ll have double the issues with the next people. Other than this problem she is a very well behaved dog, sweet, laid back, excellent with their 3 yr old and cat.  It’s sad.”


Chris mentions: “Adam gave me the same advice for my dog and it does work. Also tell them to be patient. We’ve had on & off problems with our dog over the last 4-5 years. Something will set her off and it’s a pain-in-the-neck for a few weeks. But then things return to normal. Dog might just need time to adjust to the new house.

We use the Clomicalm. We also have a crate that we put her in everyday. On the weekends we’ll do it a few times a day. Usually about 30 minutes. The goal is to get her comfortable enough in the crate that we can use it when we leave the house.”


Dixie writes: “My pits have anxiety issues.  One dog got past it, one had gotten better by keeping him in the crate and leaving him be for a bit before I left him.  (Just like Adam said, worked too)  I didn’t/don’t have to medicate him, and he gradually got past the destructive part.  That process took months and a lot of patience. He still has some issues (storm anxiety) but I know how to react and what to do calm him. (Thank you, Adam)  Everything Adam has ever told me to do about my dogs has worked like a charm.

I hope the owners of the dog are willing to take the time and work through the issue.

A nippit from the Dixie dog files.  Cheesy  Playing classical music low volume helps my dog relax especially in the crate or kennel.

The anxiety story.  Lucky bit a kid in my yard, (not bad though) so the breed ignorant dog catcher guy put Lucky in Jail 10 days.  I was pissed.  So, instead of sending him to county for jail, I housed him at my vet.  Lucky chewed everything he could put his mouth on in a chain link tile floor kennel.  He ate the light switch and chewed out the drain in the floor, he shreaded his bedding and chewed the fence a little.  The vet people said they had never seen a dog chew the light switch and everything available like that.  I noticed they had country on the radio.  I told them to change the station to classical, they did, it helped him a lot.  Though Mozart is my fav Lucky seems to like Bach.”