7 Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs

7 Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Updated on October 11th 2023

Does your dog destroy your house when you leave? Have your neighbors complained about their crying, barking and howling? Do you have to clean pee and poop off the carpet every time you come back? Discover the main signs of anxiety in dogs. Perhaps is the cause of this negative behavior.

Top 7 Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs

  1. Howl, bark, or whine a lot.
  2. Urinate or defecate indoors.
  3. Destructive chewing.
  4. Drool more than usual
  5. Pace.
  6. Try to escape.
  7. Eating poop.

Note: While a dog that doesn't experience separation anxiety may show some of these signs from time to time, they won't do so on a regular basis.

Your dog has separation anxiety if he performs several of these signs on a regular basis. That is, it is a pattern of behavior.

Separation Anxiety Dogs Symptoms One By One

The signs of separation anxiety in dogs mentioned above are the main ones, although not the only ones. Discover them one by one.

1. Hole, Bark And Whine

A dog that barks, whines or howls continuously when you are not present expresses anxiety. Keep in mind that every dog ​​can express his disagreement with your absence, but in a punctual and short way. Extension of barking, crying and howling over time shows a psychological disorder.

2. Urinate Or Defecate Indoors

If your dog pees or poops inside the house in your presence, it is not an anxiety issue, but a training problem. On the other hand, if he only does it when you are not at home, you should watch for other signs of anxiety in dogs.

3. Destructive Chewing

Some time ago, we talked about destructive chewing. Some dogs chew on objects when they are bored. However, others do it to relieve a high level of stress.

How can you tell if destructive chewing is associated with anxiety or another behavior problem? Pay attention to whether your dog resorts to this when you are present or not. If he only does it when you're away, anxiety could be the cause.

4. Excessive Drooling

Drooling is a clear symptom of anxiety. Stress increases the amount of saliva in your dog as his heart rate. So your furry friend cannot avoid wetting his bed, the sofa, and even leaving puddles on the floor.

5. Pacing

Some dogs try to relieve their stress by pacing. Usually, they do it following a pattern repeated for hours. For example: they walk in a straight line forwards or backwards, or following a circle. This behavior does not happen in your presence.

6. Try To Escape

Did your dog try to run away from home when you were at work? Claw or tooth marks on windows or doors can be an indication of this. Some dogs may dig up the ground to get out of confinement, if they are in the garden.

These activities can end in self-harm: broken teeth or nails, injuries to the nose or body, cuts are some possibilities. Of course, your dog only tries to escape when you're not home.

7. Eating Poop

Chronophagia is quite a shocking condition for owners. The dog defecates and proceeds to eat her own excrement.

This disorder can have multiple causes that we have addressed in our article: My dog ate another's dog poop (follow the link to discover them). However, one of them is separation anxiety in dogs. How to know if this is the cause? Your dog only eats poop when you're not around.

9 Causes Of Puppy Separation Anxiety

For puppies, there are a few likely causes. Among them, the following stand out:

  • First time they are alone.
  • Traumatic separation: this is common when talking about abandoned shelter dogs. 
  • Traumatic event in the absence of its owner, for example a robbery.
  • Death of a family member.
  • Divorce.
  • Lack of exercise: this cause is not proven, but specialists maintain that it could trigger anxiety.
  • Move.
  • Insecure bond with its owner.
  • Pathological hyperattachment to the owner.
  • Early weaning (before 8 weeks)

Curing Dog Separation Anxiety Quickly

If you suspect that your furry friend suffers from separation anxiety, do not hesitate and consult your trusted veterinarian. No one better than him can tell you how to proceed.

However, here are two ideas that can help you cure dog separation anxiety quickly, or at least as quickly as possible.

Association Of Good And Bad

The association of something good with something considered bad is a fairly common psychological treatment called Counterconditioning. The goal is for your dog to progressively associate your absence with something he loves.

In this case, you could leave him a toy that he really likes or a treat before you leave.

If you use a toy or puzzle stuffed with food, remember to remove it when you return. In the case of the treat, you should only give it to him when you leave and not at another time.

Note: this usually works if the anxiety case is mild. Severe cases do not respond well to this approach.

Dog Separation Anxiety Training

Many dogs begin to experience anxiety even before you leave. Your pup follows your routine and knows when you are getting ready to go. Thus, their stress increases as you get dressed, put on your shoes and pick up the keys.

This approach seeks to get your dog used to each activity. Therefore, it requires a lot of patience and time.

Follow These Steps:

  1. Start your routine early.
  2. Every time you make a sign indicating that you are going to leave, pause. For example: put on your shoes and sit down to read the newspaper. Take the keys and watch a bit of television with them in your hands or in your pocket. And so on.
  3. The goal is that every time your dog's stress goes up, you reduce it until he gets used to each activity. You'll notice that these actions don't exactly mean you're leaving immediately.
  4. Once your dog has more or less under control of his anxiety with the cues of your game, it's time to really go.
  5. First, go somewhere at home alone for a couple of minutes. Increase the time progressively.
  6. Then he leaves the house but stay close. Increase the time you are away progressively.
  7. When your dog responds to this without anxiety, you can start short absences and gradually increase the time as your dog tolerates them.
Consult a dog behavior specialist for a specifically designed plan for your dog.


Causes of puppy separation anxiety

What Is Dog Anxiety?

Dog anxiety is a negative emotional state characterized by the anticipation of a threat. In this way, many dogs begin to suffer from it even before their owner leaves home.

What Is Separation Anxiety In Dogs?

Separation anxiety in dogs is a psychological disorder that can be considered serious because it is the result of stress.

In general, dogs may whine a bit when you leave for work, but when this extends to shredded cushions, potty accidents, howling, and other issues, dog anxiety can be the cause.

Why Should I Treat Separation Anxiety In Dogs? 

Separation anxiety in dogs negatively affects the well-being of the pup and the emotional bond with you. According to the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, the number of abandoned or euthanized dogs due to this disorder is very high.

Do Dogs Grow Out Of Separation Anxiety?

Yes, but they usually need several weeks and even months to get over separation anxiety. Consult your trusted vet or a dog behavior specialist.


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