What Is Dog Separation Anxiety?

Feb 28, 2024
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dog with separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a critical behavioral problem, which can cause tremendous emotional distress for both dogs and their owners. It can occur in dogs of any age or breed. It is one of the most common reasons for pet owners to euthanize or give up their dogs.

Most dogs with normal behavior are more likely to sleep, bark randomly or chew their toys when left alone in the house without access to its owner. In general, they pretty much do what they normally do when you are with them. For dogs with separation anxiety, they can make leaving the house or even the room an emotional trigger and a difficult task for its owner.

Symptoms of separation anxiety

  • Urinating and Defecating

  • Barking and Howling

  • Chewing, Digging and Destruction

  • Escaping

  • Pacing

  • Coprophagia

Dogs with severe separation anxiety can destroy thousands of dollars in internal furnishings, injure themselves and defecate and urinate (eliminate) everywhere. Their howling, barking, and whining can also lead to problems with neighbors and landlords.

Do not scold or punish your dog. Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses! Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.

Treatment for Mild Separation Anxiety

If your dog has a mild case of separation anxiety, counter conditioning might reduce or resolve the problem. Counter conditioning is a treatment process that changes an animal’s fearful, anxious or aggressive reaction to a pleasant, relaxed one instead. It’s done by associating the sight or presence of a feared or disliked person, animal, place, object or situation with something really good, something the dog loves. Over time, the dog learns that whatever he fears actually predicts good things for him.

For dogs with separation anxiety, counter conditioning focuses on developing an association between being alone and good things, like delicious food. To develop this kind of association, every time you leave the house, you can offer your dog a Frozen Kong that will take him at least 20 to 30 minutes to finish.

Frozen Kong


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