How do you know if a dog has separation anxiety?

This is an excerpt from my EBook, “Separation Anxiety – Identification and Treatment”

Separation anxiety can be one of the most frustrating dog behavioral problems. It is important to understand how to identify the signs and address the situation as quickly as possible before it spirals out of control.

Signs of Separation Anxiety

Just because your dog has one or more of the signs does not mean he automatically has separation anxiety. If you have more specific questions about your dog, you can sign up for phone support or forums support and ask me directly about your specific situation.

Pre-departure Anxiety

Your dog will eventually learn your pattern before you leave the house and he may become anxious in anticipation of your departure. The anxiety can manifest itself in many ways including:

  1. Panting
  2. Jumping on the bed or furniture and looking “depressed”
  3. Obsessive behaviors such as chewing or licking Not eating
  4. Following you around the house
  5. Jumping on you or biting your clothes or feet
  6. Urination and Defecation Within 30 Minutes of Departure

Even older dogs that are considered house trained can have accidents shortly after their person leaves the house. This is attributed to pre-departure anxiety causing the dog to become anxious while their person is getting ready to leave the house. By the time the person actually leaves, the dog is so worked up that they have a panic attack and lose their ability to hold their bladder and bowels.

Barking and Whining for Long Periods of Time When Alone
This is often the first sign of separation anxiety resulting in complaints from neighbors in condos or apartments. This is a result of the inability of dogs to be comfortable when alone. A dog will try anything to call his person to come back. This behavior can escalate if you ever go to your dog when he barks. Dogs “do what works” for them, so if your dog successfully asks you to come back by barking, he might continue to bark when he is anxious when alone because that has worked for him in the past. A dog that is frantic due to separation anxiety will obsessively bark if it has resulted in comfort in the past.

Clawing or Biting at Exit Points or the Crate – Possibly With Damage to Nails, Teeth or Paws
Dogs that are anxious will do anything to find their person. This often results in repeated scratching at the crate or the door that they leave from. Serious damage can result to the door and/or the dogs themselves. Damage can show up as far as bloody paws or broken teeth. Dogs with separation anxiety can also break out of crates or slam their bodies against the crate possibly resulting in injury or movement of the crate across the floor.

Prolonged Greetings Upon Return
Happy, tail-wagging greetings are normal. Dogs that look like they are hyper ventilating and are overly excited for long periods of time are anxious when alone and look for comfort when their person gets home.

Following People Around From Room to Room Whenever Home
Dogs are social and often want to be with their people. However, it is a sign of separation anxiety when dogs follow people continuously without the ability to be in a room by themselves.

Not Eating Food or Treats When Alone
One sign of a fearful or anxious dog is the loss of appetite. If you leave your dog’s favorite treats and he does not eat them when he is alone, this is one potential sign of separation anxiety. Dogs with anxiety also will frequently rush to get their untouched treats as soon as someone comes home.

One sign of separation anxiety is the destruction of furniture, clothes, dog beds or other objects in the house. Sometimes simple boredom is the main cause of destruction so it is important to look at all of your dog’s behaviors to determine if it is indeed separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety can take a long time to cure, but there are proven techniques that you can start using right away. The sooner you start helping your dog overcome his or her anxiety, the faster you will see results.

For more information about my EBooks about separation anxiety or barking, visit the EBooks section on my website.

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