Dog Separation Anxiety

Do you ever come home and think “What happened here?” Your house has been destroyed by your faithful canine that suffers with dog separation anxiety. Your home does not resemble the way you left it – there is mess everywhere and instead of enjoying a quiet evening at home you are forced to clean up a huge mess.

Your dog might think it is a game to chew up a pillow and spread the contents throughout the house; and you might even think it’s funny – the first time – but when this type of destruction is a daily occurrence your patience is bound to wear thin. Many dogs prefer to dig and your dog might try digging up all the indoor plants leaving you with your carpets and rugs full of wet soil and chewed up and wilted pants strewn around the room. This type of behavior is not so funny when you have loads of work to do to get the house back to normal.

If your dog is an outdoor model then he or she might dig holes all over the yard. Have you noticed that as soon as you fill one hole in; two more mysteriously appear in its place? Or, maybe your dog delights in pulling the clean washing off the clothes line and destroy your favorite items of clothing by shredding and tearing them up.

This is not only frustrating but costly when you have to replace or repair your damaged possessions.

Today we look at the following topics;

  1. What is dog separation anxiety?
  2. How does anxiety in dogs manifest.
  3. Level 1 – Noise like barking yelping, whining and howling.
  4. Level 2 – Destructive Behavior.
  5. Level 3 – Severe depression including self harm and self injury.

separation anxiety image

What is dog separation anxiety?

Canines suffering from anxiety are often noisy or destructive. These types of dog behaviors are mealy a symptom of a much bigger problem, dog separation anxiety.  Left untreated this problem usually escalates and gets steadily worse as time goes on. Up to 35% of family pooches are directly affected by dog anxiety issues.

Sadly, dog’s suffering from separation anxiety and the bad behaviors it causes is the one of the main reasons why people give up and their dogs have them euthanized or send them to the pound. The problem is if people decide to replace their badly behaved dog with another, chances are that the new addition to the family will also exhibit similar bad behaviors. Different dog – same bad behaviors.

How does anxiety in dogs manifest?

Separation anxiety in dogs manifests in different dogs in different ways. Here are some of the most common dog anxiety symptoms and manifestations in different levels.

Level 1 – Noise like barking, yelping, whining, howling.

This is probably the most common exhibition of dog anxiety. Your dog may at first make whining noises which can easily increase to barking, howling and yelping.

Level 2 – Destructive behavior.

Destructive behavior is also very common where your dog may empty the bins all over the kitchen and spread the contents of the pantry everywhere. In the most extreme cases you family pooch destroys furniture; rips up carpet and may even cause structural damage to your home. The ‘extreme destructive behavior’ is not as common as ‘making a mess’ type of behavior.

Level 3 – Severe depression including self harm and self injury.

Some dogs do not ‘act out’ but internalize their pain and confusion. They can become totally sad and do not seem to enjoy anything; they seem to just give up! Others, when they internalize too much, have been reported to chew on their feet or tails to the point where they require veterinarian treatment. Some dogs can self harm so excessively and can cause so much damage by chewing  on themselves that their tail or toes need amputation.

It doesn’t matter what type of behavior your dog is exhibiting, you are reading this information about anxiety in dogs so you are clearly looking for solutions. Sure, you can try expensive dog training schools or individual one on one dog training courses but there are other options available that won’t break the budget.

Next, find out how you can take control and begin to enjoy a happy and healthy relationship with man’s best friend again; without the frustration or big expenses. Don’t waste another moment, get your FREE GIFT of the Dog Separation Checklist to see if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.

Thanks for visiting our article about Dog Separation Anxiety.

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  1. Thanks for this information about dog separation anxiety.
    I have something quite different going on with my dog and I have a question about dogs eating their own poop. I noticed that there is nothing in this dog separation anxiety article about this topic. I have had this embarresing problem with my dog and was wondering if it is a symptom of dog anxiety or if there is something else wrong – or maybe my dog is just a freak! I love my dog but I’m worried about taking him out in public in case he does this again, I’m even concerned about having friends over in case he does it while they are there. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for your question; it was a particularly good one. Dogs eating their own poop can be a symptom of dog anxiety but it is a less common symptom than those listed above.

      There are also other reasons why dog might eat their own poop and these will be explained in an upcoming article titled Stop Dog From Eating Poop.

      I’m sure you love your dog and this is just a minor problem that can be easily dealt with. To answer your other questions – Yes, it can be an embarrassing problem, no, your dog is not a freak – poop eating is a very common practice especially in puppies, bitches with young pups and less frequently in older dogs.

      There are a few suggestions I will make in the new article Stop Dog From Eating Poop to help you manage this embarrassing situation. Your dog should be cured of this unpleasant behavior within a few weeks following the steps I suggest.

      Thanks again for bringing this up!

  2. I have a 12 year old westie-cross. He suffers terrible panic attacks all the time. He will pant and shake for no reason for hours on end. We are home with him all day and he sleeps in the same room as us.
    He whines and barks all night long. Petting him, comforting him have all gone to no avail.
    He usually wakes up at about 2-3 every morning and wants to go out. Then when he is outside, all he does is shake, pant, and pace.
    When I bring him in, he stands there and shakes, pants and never goes back to sleep.
    We are not getting any sleep. We have gone to the vets about this twice and they do not have any answers for us.
    His diet has been the same chicken/lamb formual. He eats fine and drinks without any problem. He has regular bowel movements without any problem
    This is the one big problem we have and we are at the end of our rope. This has been going on for over 1 year now. Can you help us?????

    • Hi Pat,

      Thanks for your question. WOW! You have one confused pup on your hands. It sounds to me like you have ruled out health problems by seeing the vet which would have been my first suggestion – to seek expert help to make sure there is no physical illness. So you have done the right thing there.

      Next we need to look at the behaviours. You have given your dog plenty of comfort and affection – no problem there – or maybe there is. I have seen this before and all dogs need love and affection, but the behaviors are not getting any better. This behavior becomes more than just inconvenience when you are losing precious sleep – and so is your dog. Everyone is over tired which exaggerate the problem.

      Here is what I think – Your dog is suffering from fear anxiety. Consequently, your dog has got into some really bad habits. Your dog wakes you often and you respond with love by attending to your dogs needs – but maybe a bit too much. Your dog is rewarded through the behaviors of shaking and pacing by getting your undivided attention and is therefore rewarded for the behavior. I don’t doubt that your dog had a good reason for this behavior initially, but 12 months on it is likely that the reason for the fear has long been forgotten and the behaviors are still there.

      It’s time to try some tough love to break this habitual cycle. It sounds to me like your dog is confused about who is the boss dog in the house – your dog probably thinks they are running the show and you qualify this by pandering to their every need. Most pet owners do this thinking that it’s the right thing to do – it’s not. I’m sure you love your dog but sometimes love means identifying what makes your dog happy and doing something to remedy the problem. Your dog is clearly not happy at the moment and has the added burden of being top dog in the family.

      It would take me hours to go through all of the steps of establishing yourself as the top dog or alpha dog and I recommend you get the Secrets of Dog Training Manual to help you understand and implement the practices that will bring harmony back to your relationship with your dog. Here are a couple of tips to try in the meantime.

      First – Dogs do not need to sleep in the room with their owners. The laundry room is perfectly fine. Some dog owners have a specific bed room just for their dog, I don’t know if this is possible for you – but bathroom or laundry is a good option for most people. Humans have changes in breathing, can snore and move around during the different phases of sleep. Dogs acute hearing pick up on all of these noises from your normal sleeping phases – and the noises you make will disturb your dogs sleep.

      There will be some resistance to a new sleeping arrangement – so be aware that it can take up to 3 weeks to establish a new sleeping pattern. Always incorporate a bed time routine. Such as giving a command of “Bed Time Now” take them outside for a quick toilet stop and encourage them to get on their bed. Once on the bed give your dog a pat and tell them again “Bed time now” or “Sleep Time Now” turn off the light and shut the door. Make sure your dog has their usual bedding and fresh clean water to drink. This routine needs to happen at the same time every night to establish a clear routine. Don’t give in!

      Second – Feed your dog last. The top dog or alpha dog always eats first. Have your breakfast and evening meal before you feed your dog and make sure that they wait patiently to be fed. If your dog is whining or causing a fuss when you are eating give them a firm “No” command and if they continue, remove them from your presence. Make sure that the “time out” area is not your dog’s new sleeping area. Your dog needs to identify the sleeping area as a happy place not a punishment place.

      Always make your dog sit before you give them their food. This shows the dog that they are rewarded for appropriate behavior.

      I’m sure you love your dog and let me know how you go – remember an old dog can learn new tricks!
      Also; don’t forget to take up our offer to ger your Free 6 Day Dog Training Course – It may not specifically address the issues you have with your dog but it will give you some ideas and strategies to implement to help establish yourself as the boss and top dog in the family!

  3. This is a great post on dog anxiety.

    As a pre vet student and as the owner of a dog with diagnosed anxiety, having a resource where you can recognise the symptoms of anxiety. Especially when owners hear excessive barking, whining or start conducting in destructive behaviour, it often leads to abuse or euthanasia…

    If owners can recognize symptoms early on, they can consult with their vet and seek preventative and later treatment options. A truly great resource.
    Tegan Hadley recently posted..Leadership Development Plan – Step TwoMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment Tegan,

      I couldn’t agree with you more. Most people don’t identify dog separation anxiety symptoms early enough, they wait until they have a major dog behavioir problems before seeking advice.

      My goal with this site is to respond to people’s questions about their dogs behavior and make some suggestions about how manage their dogs challenging, anxious and destructive behaviors.

      I hope that this site can help save some lovely dogs from a terrible fate.

      Thanks again!

  4. Jeannette says:

    Hi Bev.
    I adopted a 2 year old poodle mix about 5 months ago and turns out that he has separation anxiety…. he will howl and whine and bark loud big dog bark as soon as I walk out the door. I can spend hours in the bathroom and not a peep … hang out in my sons room and he will whine but after awhile of ignoring he will stop. I try to desensitize him by walking in and out quick from the home walk around with my shoes and with my keys at different times. He is a great dog I have this month off for vacation and I am going to make an appointment with the Vet to see about medication so i want to work hard for his case, because if not, it breaks my heart to say it but he might have to go back to the shelter. I even bought the thundershirt but not sure if I’m doing it right… I can tie him up outside and walk away without a problem its just when he doesn’t see me is when he panics… do you have any suggestions for me?

    • Hi Jeannette,

      Don’t give up hope! Poodles are one of the most intelligent breeds and it sounds like your poodle has over attachment issues. Intelligent dogs will often push the boundaries with their owners and from there form bad behavioral habits.

      Most likely your dog found some type of reward for his behavior early on and the problem has escalated as time went on. Dog separation anxiety is totally treatable and the training techniques are easy to implement. It will take some time and commitment from you, but it sounds like you love your dog so it will not be hard for you to do that.

      I am currently in the final stages of completing the Stop Dog Anxiety ebook. The final draft is currently with my editor and will be released soon.

      If you not have already done so, I recommend that you download the Dog Anxiety Checklist by filling out your name and email address in the box at the top of the page. The checklist will give you an idea of how severe your dogs anxiety is and will also subscribe you into my emailing list. I won’t be sending out emails to subscribers that often, I only send emails when something of importance is added to this site that will be valuable to my visitors and from your subscription I will let you know when I release the Stop Dog Anxiety ebook.

      Hang in there – you can change this situation for the better!!

  5. Hi,

    Recently got a 10 month old lurcher who destroyed the kitchen door the first day we left her for a couple of hours – totally shredded with her claws, looks like a few bite marks – can you help?!

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      Hi Laura,

      A new dog will take some time to settle in. They will most likely be feeling a bit scared and it takes some time to build trust. You dog was trying to find you – that’s why she damaged the door. If you put yourself in her position then you are more likely to understand.

      There are plenty of things you can do to establish trust – so she can trust that you will return and not to panic when you go out. There are so many things – there is is too many to list here which is precisely why I wrote my new book “Stop Dog Anxiety”. Just go to the book tab at the top of the screen and click on Stop Dog Anxiety to have a closer look.

      Damaged furniture and personal items will be a thing of the past once you implement my simple strategies and techniques to stop dog anxiety!