Separation Anxiety in Dogs

April 23, 2021

Separation Anxiety is a phobia of being alone, and it is stressful for both dogs and owners. Dogs who have separation anxiety panic when they’re left alone, and that panic is what leads to signs such as panting, drooling, increased heart rate and respirations rate, plus behaviour such as barking, howling, whining, destroying furniture, toileting in the house or licking/chewing parts of their body.

What causes Separation Anxiety?

We know a lot more about what does NOT cause Separation Anxiety than what DOES cause it. It is important to remember that your dog is not trying to be naughty or spiteful, and letting your dog sleep on the bed, or giving your dog affection will not have caused their separation anxiety! There is a misconception that dogs display these behaviours mentioned above when left alone because they are angry and “protesting” at being left alone. This just is not the case. Dogs are very smart, but they do not think in the same way as us humans do. You dog is not angry at being left alone, he is terrified of being left alone. This is not something that he has any control over.

Some dogs also have a genetic predisposition towards anxiety, therefore potentially making them more likely to develop Separation Anxiety.  A scary experience when left alone (such as a house burglary or the dog being scared by building workers), house move, if a dog is re-homed, changes in the family (the loss or addition of a family member, for example), a particularly traumatizing experience (for example, a dog attack), or being left home alone for too long, too often, can all potentially result in the development of Separation Anxiety. The risk factors are not entirely known, however.

Will Separation Anxiety get better on its own?

Sadly the simple answer is, no. In fact often the opposite happens – most dogs with Separation Anxiety get worse over time, not better. It is the same with humans – anxiety rarely improves on its own.

Every time a dog with Separation Anxiety is left, they panic and their body is flooded with stress-inducing chemicals. This regular panic leads to the dog becoming more aware of signs that you may be about to leave – putting your shoes on, picking up keys, turning off the TV, so that they become anxious before you have even left the house.  This constant cycle of stress and panic leads to a ‘vicious cycle’ which makes it impossible for dogs to feel safe when left alone.

Can Separation Anxiety be treated?

Absolutely YES!

Dogs with Separation Anxiety can learn that being home alone is safe again! It is not a quick process (in the same way that addressing fears and phobias in humans is not a ‘quick fix’) and does require commitment to work through a tailored training protocol, but it is very effective.  It is also incredibly rewarding and means you get your life back and you can go out knowing that your dog is at home, alone and happy.


How I can help

As a qualified CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer) I have been trained and mentored by the best selling author and international speaker on Separation anxiety, Malena DeMartini, and I specialise in helping owners overcome their dog’s Separation Anxiety. Please do get in touch if you would like to get your life back!


By Angela Doyle

I am a highly experienced and qualified reward based dog trainer and behaviour consultant based in Surrey, UK. I am a fully qualified CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer) and specialise in helping dogs overcome Separation Anxiety.

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