Separation Anxiety

Many people are unaware that separation anxiety even exists with their dog. There are many different traits that can be seen in a dog due to separation anxiety.

When we leave home for work each day, most people are unaware of what their dog is experiencing, and for many of them it is separation anxiety. We assume that because the dog appears to be happy when we arrive home at the end of the day, that it has been happy all day long.

In many instances, the dog could have had quite a traumatic day. Many dogs are concerned that when their owner leaves, they might not be coming back. They have no way of knowing that we will be back in eight or nine hours. The stress that this causes for a dog can lead to destructive behavior where they will chew everything in sight.

Other dogs might express their stress by soiling the house. Either way, if you come home from work and find that your well-trained dog has done something out of the ordinary you need to consider whether it has had a stressful day or not, and certainly not reprimand it until you know what the circumstances have been.

If you sense your dog has been stressed during the day, you might like to consider giving it more toys to stop it from becoming bored, or better still, have somebody call in and visit at some stage throughout the day so it knows that it is not alone. Exercising your dog in the morning before you leave is a good idea because it is more likely to sleep during the day.

Another method to reassure your dog that you will be coming back when you leave, is to do several smaller trips in the course of a few days or weeks, where the dog becomes more and more accustomed to you leaving and returning at different intervals. By slowly extending these hours of separation, your dog will become accustomed to it, thereby eliminating separation anxiety.  

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.