Dog separation anxiety

Dog separation anxiety

It’s sometimes impossible to live with a dog that has “separation anxiety.” A loud or destructive dog creates stress for everyone in the house, costs extra money and ruins good relationships with neighbors.

Well-meaning dog lovers aren’t always aware of a dog’s anxiety issues before adopting or fostering, and this can lead to big problems, especially in an apartment setting. I know what a difficult choice it is to return a dog, especially for a dog lover who doesn’t want to “give up on the dog.”

But sometimes there is no other option. Sometimes you have to put yourself and your family before a dog.

Almost every dog I’ve fostered has had some form of “separation anxiety,” and I’m not talking about a bit of crying as the dog adjusts to her new environment.

What is separation anxiety in dogs?

Dog separation anxiety books

Note: This post has been expanded into an ebook on dog separation anxiety. The cost is $4. Click the book cover for more info.

I consider a dog to have separation anxiety if she has never been properly conditioned to being left alone and therefore goes into a frantic state of mind when her owner leaves the house.

There are a lot of loose definitions for separation anxiety, and people are too quick to say a dog has it.

In most cases the dog hasn’t been given any rules, exercise or a routine so of course she’s going to bark and destroy things when left alone – she’s bored out of her mind and has never been consistently disciplined or exercised!

Another mistake is to say the dog has separation anxiety just because she cries when kenneled. All dogs will naturally need a few days or weeks to adjust to a new environment.

And it does take some time for a dog to get used to a kennel. My mutt Ace cried for 20 minutes every time I kenneled him for the first two weeks. This wasn’t separation anxiety. Ace was just learning his new routine and didn’t want to be left out. He’s also a big baby and still does a fair amount of whining in general 🙂

Signs of separation anxiety in dogs

  • An unhealthy attachment to her owner, often following him from room to room and sitting as close as possible.
  • Leaning into or climbing on her owner for security.
  • Crying and scratching at a bedroom, bathroom or office door if she is not allowed inside with her owner.
  • Nervousness at the sound of her owner jingling keys, putting on shoes, grabbing his coat, etc.
  • Frantic excitement to see her owner when he returns, even if he was gone for one minute to get the mail.
  • Destructive behavior when left alone, often chewing or scratching at the door or objects near the door.
  • Panicking when kenneled.
  • Trying to break out of a kennel to the point of damaging the kennel or injuring herself.
  • Drooling, “foaming” at the mouth, panting, “smacking” her lips and pacing as her owner is getting ready to leave and while he is gone.
  • Barking, crying, howling or literally shrieking when alone.
  • Going to the bathroom in the kennel or on the floor when left alone.
  • Ignoring very tempting goodies when left alone.
  • Odd, obsessive behaviors such as licking her paws – similar to a person who bites her nails or lip when nervous.

Some dogs will show all of these signs, and some will show a few signs depending on the severity of the dog’s anxiety. Also see my post for how to prevent separation anxiety in dogs to begin with.

How to help a dog with separation anxiety

The first decision a dog owner must make is whether or not he is up for dealing with a dog that has separation issues. Unfortunately there is no quick fix, and the owner should assume he will be dealing with these issues for several months.

I recently made the difficult choice to return a foster dog because of his anxiety when left alone. The townhome environment I live in is not the place to properly condition a dog that needs months of work.

Although it is not easy to return a dog to a rescue or shelter, sometimes there is no other choice. If you are faced with this decision, remember there are always more dogs to adopt that do not have separation anxiety.

Don’t miss my other post on how to prevent separation anxiety in puppies and dogs.

Here are some suggestions for helping a dog with separation anxiety:

1. Do not coddle a dog that shows insecurity.

Insecure dogs will lean into their owners in order to feel protected. The dog may also try to climb into her owner’s lap. When my foster dog Levi leaned into me, the best thing I could do for him was to get up and move away. I did not pet him or comfort him or say “It’s OK, Baby.” No.

Levi would also follow me from room to room. I would purposely set up barriers to stretch his comfort zone such as not allowing him to follow me into the bathroom or my bedroom or office.

2. Do not reward excited behavior.

Dogs showing any kind of anxiety or excitement should never be rewarded for it. Instead, they need to learn to chill out.

Owners should reward their dogs only when the dogs are calm. A dog that is pacing around the house, panting and whining should not be rewarded. I will often leash a dog and put her in a down-stay position to help her relax.

3. Stick to a routine when leaving.

Dogs learn by repetitions and conditioning, so decide where your dog will stay when you are gone, and stick to it. If she panics when left in the laundry room, she is going to panic when left in the bathroom, bedroom or kennel, so just pick one place and stick to it.

Establish your routine for leaving and try to be as consistent as possible every time. Let your dog out, then put her in “her spot” and ignore her for a good 20 minutes while you get ready to leave. Then leave.

Don’t say good bye. Don’t talk to her. Don’t even look at her. Completely ignore any crying she does and just go.

4. Adopt a dog at a time when you are able to take a week off from work.

This will help make the adjustment period easier because you can slowly work up to leaving the dog for longer and longer periods rather than “suddenly disappearing” for eight hours.

5. Condition your dog in small steps.

Ace the black lab mix close up with gray on his nose

Slowly condition your dog to sounds like picking up your keys and putting on your coat so she eventually learns that these sounds are no big deal. Do this by randomly picking up your keys several times throughout the day without actually leaving.

Once your dog is OK with this, progress to putting on your coat or shoes without actually leaving. Next, progress to jiggling the doorknob randomly without actually opening the door.

The next steps could be opening the door without leaving, then leaving for 10 seconds, leaving for 30 seconds, opening the car door without actually leaving, etc.

6. Commit to using a kennel.

A destructive dog will cause a lot less damage if she is in a kennel. Most importantly, you will feel less anxious by knowing your dog is safely confined and out of trouble. There’s nothing worse than sitting at work all day or going out Friday night and spending the entire time worried about the dog!

7. Kennel the dog for short periods while you are home.

Kong toy

Even on days you are home, put the dog in her kennel for an hour. This will help her stick to her routine. It will also help her realize that just because she is in her kennel does not mean you are going anywhere.

Use puzzle toys like Kongs and stuff these with treats to make the kennel a positive place for your dog.

8. Place a radio in the room, stock the kennel with treats and ignore, ignore, ignore.

The hardest thing to do is ignore the dog when he’s crying or barking. Some people want to scold the dog and some people want to coddle the dog. Yelling at the dog will make her even more anxious, and coddling the dog enforces her thought that there’s something to be worried about.

Both yelling at and coddling the dog teach her that if she cries and barks, you will return to her. So as hard as it is, ignore her. Leaving the radio playing on talk radio and providing extra goodies like frozen Kong toys filled with peanut butter will help.

9. Ignore the dog when you return.

This is hard to do, but it is so important not to throw a party every time you come home. Your dog is going to be extremely excited to see you and probably barking, jumping, crying and wiggling. Completely ignore the dog until she settles down. Don’t even look at her for several minutes.

Making a big deal out of coming home reinforces that it was OK for the dog to feel anxious while you were away and that everything’s OK now that you are back. It should not be an event when you leave, and it should not be an event when you return.

10. Increase the dog’s exercise.

I offer dog running services to dozens of dogs in the Fargo area, and trust me, a dog that has had enough exercise will have an easier time relaxing. Most dogs with any kind of anxiety have a lot of pent-up energy.

A long rollerblading, running or biking session in the morning before work will make a huge difference for the dog. Do not overlook this factor.

11. Apologize to neighbors.

Apologizing for the noise and explaining the situation goes a long way.

Explaining that the dog is a “rescue” and still in training also helps. If your neighbors are dealing with a lot of extra noise coming from your house, why not send them a simple gift like a thank-you note or a gift card for their family to go out to dinner somewhere?

You want the neighbors to support you, not report you to the police or landlord.

12. Avoid anti-anxiety medication (for the dog).

I realize how tempting it is to use drugs to calm the dog, especially when a veterinarian supports the idea.

Instead of using prescription medications, I recommend you try natural products first such as Bach’s Rescue Remedy or dog appeasing pheromones.

If these do not work, then you could consider talking with your vet about anti-anxiety medications for your dog.

Keep in mind, vets see all kinds of dogs with different issues, and they know the average person is not going to follow through with training, socializing and exercising a dog. But putting your dog on Prozac or a similar drug is not solving the problem in the long run.

We fail our dogs in so many ways. Dogs develop “issues” because of our mistakes (or someone else’s mistakes), and solving the problem by drugging the dog is not a happy ending. Of course there are cases where drugs are necessary, but these cases are extremely rare.

If your vet or trainer suggests drugging your dog, get a second or third opinion and trust your own judgement.

Helping a dog overcome separation anxiety is a long process, but it is well worth it in the end!

What experiences have you had with dogs and separation anxiety?

Let us know in the comments!

Also check out my other post on how to stop a dog’s separation anxiety.

*This post contains affiliate links.

113 thoughts on “Dog separation anxiety”

  1. Amanda Steiner

    All very good methods to use Lindsay! Eli had separation anxiety when I first adopted him, but luckily at the time I had just finished school and didn’t have a job, so I spent about 2-3 weeks on kennel training him. Slowly, we worked towards him not whining when I would leave the apt, and now (a year and a half after getting him) I can leave him out of his kennel all day while I’m at work and he doesn’t make a peep, or chew on anything! I used pretty much all of the tips you listed in your post. The one thing I have noticed, is that he still has some anxiety when I leave him alone somewhere new and he’s not in his kennel. I’m sure it’s because we have not practiced me leaving in that particular place, but that’s something I should work on with him. I think that separation anxiety is very common among adopted/shelter dogs, and with a lot of work it can subside, it just takes a lot of time, and understanding neightbors 🙂

  2. Lindsay Stordahl

    Having understanding neighbors is a biggie! A ton of rescue/shelter dogs have some form of separation anxiety and it does take a lot of patience to work on the issues. It is well worth it in the end, though! I’m impressed by how good Eli is in his kennel! Ace is such a baby when he has to stay in his kennel anywhere but at home. Of course, this is my fault for not practicing it more often.

  3. Well, Gus has the worst case of separation anxiety but much of it is fueled by boredom. His breed tends to get bored easily and are destruction machines when they are left alone in the home. He either needs a well-fenced backyard with other dogs to keep him company or daycare. We take him to daycare. He loves them and they love him. We’re quite fortunate that we found such a great location. If we work from home for a few weeks and don’t come in they tell us that they have “Gus withdrawals”. We manage, bloodhounds are high maintenance – period. This is especially true for ours that went through a natural disaster early in his life and was then shuffled around to 5 or more families.

    Don’t feel sorry for him now thought – he’s a diva!

  4. Lindsay Stordahl

    Gus is such a lucky boy to have such an understanding mom! I know he loves going to daycare, and I’m glad he’s spoiled and has a good home for the rest of his life.

  5. All very good tips. It is very true that most dogs with separation anxiety have had a rough start in their life.
    I foster dogs as well and look for retired, people that work from home or people that can take their dog to work as “adopted parents”
    I know it is somewhat a cope out. But I find when the dog is older and already went through so much, finding a home where they are not going to be left alone helps the dog gain confidence and trust faster.
    It is a long haul to help a dog with separation anxiety and not everyone is ready, willing or able to do the work and it is OK too.

  6. Lindsay Stordahl

    I know what you mean, and sometimes it does work out for the person to be able to take the dog along most places.

  7. The easiest tip for me was to completely ignore Brick when I was leaving. If I pet him or said goodbye, it seemed to make it worse, so I acted like he wasn’t even there. And when I got home, wouldn’t acknowledge him until he was sitting nicely and quietly.

  8. Giving him a peanut butter-filled Kong on my way out did the trick, too! He forgot all about me leaving and was deeply into getting the pb out.

  9. Lindsay Stordahl

    Yeah that is a good idea, to act as though the dog doesn’t even exist as you are getting ready to leave and leaving. I used to use a lot of Kongs with peanut butter too. To this day, Ace will literally dive into his kennel when told, hoping for some peanut butter.

  10. This is a really great post. I went through this with Emmett, and luckily for us, we had really great neighbors who were patient and kept us informed (“He only howled for 4 hours today! Big improvement!”) The routine thing is so incredibly crucial. Not only does it provide stability, but it basically gears them up to accept the idea that when these things happen, my person leaves, but she always comes back! It’s a challenge, though, to be persistent, consistent, and, above all, patient!

    1. Haha wow! I can’t believe your neighbors were so understanding! That’s really awesome. I don’t even know that I would be that tolerant. 😛

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        I try to be as patient as possible with my neighbors because I know they put up with my barking foster dogs from time to time!

  11. Lindsay Stordahl

    Yes, you summed it up nicely – the routine provides stability. You were so lucky to have such understanding neighbors. I’m glad Emmett has learned that you will always come back! 🙂

  12. Christie Lindemann

    Enjoyed reading your insight on dog separation anxiety. I don’t anything about Buddy’s background, but when we adopted him at 9 months of age, he could have cared less if we left him…in fact, it bugged me a little because he acted so indifferent. He has been a part of our family for almost 2 years and when we come home after being gone, he never meets us at the door…he just stays on his bed, wagging his tail until we call him. People think that I have an incredibly well-trained dog, but I didn’t do anything…he is just really mellow. I wish that I knew some background so I could figure out why he has the traits that he has…I’m thinking that he was left alone all of the time when he was a pup, so to him, it isn’t a big deal to be by himself. Any ideas?

    1. I have two retired greyhounds who act the same way. A friend of my mom’s came to our house one day, and walked right in as the front door was unlocked since my dad was doing some yard work. She said Stetson (the boy) just lifted his head when she came in, then went right back to sleep! Some guard dogs. haha
      But they usually won’t come when we enter the house until they are called, and only excitedly at that! I can’t say it’s really a bad thing.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        That’s how Ace is too 🙂 When I come home I have to call him to me, and then he slowly walks over to me wagging, like “Well, OK …”

  13. Lindsay Stordahl

    You know, that’s how Ace is too when we come home. He doesn’t even get up! He just lies on his bed (usually with his back to us), and thumps his tail without even lifting his head.

    I notice that Buddy is incredibly comfortable and relaxed when he comes to visit. When he stayed with us for a few nights and I left the dogs home for a bit, he didn’t care at all. Most dogs are nervous about being left in a new environment. I bet Buddy was left home a lot as a pup like you suggested. He’s also just so naturally laid back, I guess it takes a lot to get Bud worked up!

  14. All great tips – thanks. I am currently dealing with a rescue GSP with separation anxiety. His breed is prone to the “velcro dog” syndrome anyway, and being a rescue from a neglect situation only compounded this, I am sure. I’ve been trying a lot of different techniques, but I realize I need to be more consistent with ALL of them. One thing that other trainers have recommended to me, and which is worth mentioning here, is that some dogs, especially high energy, intelligent breeds like GSPs, can be properly exercised, but still need a lot of MENTAL exercise. I could run my guy all day and he would never truly get tired. But if I play nose games with him for an hour he seems to sack out. Now if I could find the time to do that in the morning before I leave, we might get somewhere! Thanks again!

  15. Lindsay Stordahl

    Great point, Miranda! All dogs need some physical and some mental exercise, especially the more intelligent, active breeds. And tons of exercise on its own will not cure separation anxiety. If so, then the dog didn’t have separation anxiety to begin with, he was just under exercised. I know you are very aware of the differences, but not all dog owners are.

    Another tip I just thought of is to be careful not to feel too sorry for the dog. Easier said than done, I know but feeling guilty for leaving the dog will not help the dog. They read our body language so much and the dog needs to learn that being left alone is a normal and acceptable part of the routine.

    Thanks for the tips and good luck helping your rescue dog!

  16. So, Gustav’s daycare told me the other day that he was actually PLAYING with the other dogs instead of just napping or wagging his tail and sniffing. They had to double-check to make sure it was actually him! Hahahaha!

  17. Lindsay Stordahl

    Awww, that’s so cute! I didn’t know he usually doesn’t play with the other dogs. Does he just look for food instead? Ha!

    Ace has gotten better at playing with other dogs since we’ve had so many dogs stay with us in the last year and a half. He used to just ignore them and obsess over his tennis ball.

  18. Pingback: Separation Anxiety and your Dog » Dogs of Mobile

  19. Molly, the blue heeler/german shepherd mix, was almost the end of my friend Melissa due to separation anxiety! I remember days when Melissa would call me bawling because she didn’t know what else to do with Molly:) She discovered many interactive dog toys, including treat balls/cubes and dog-puzzles that would keep Molly occupied for HOURS while she was gone! It definitely was time-consuming though; it took a good three months for Molly to be able to be left alone and trusted in the house:) And the ignoring was the hardest! Great tips!

  20. Lindsay Stordahl

    I’m glad she was able to help Molly through her separation anxiety. Puzzle games and different interactive toys are a great way to keep dogs occupied. I should definitely have more of those handy.

  21. Good post. Separation Anxiety in dogs is very similar to children’s as well. It is the emotional need and attachment that causes these behaviors. I tend to agree with that there is no easy solution but, there are several very effective training methods.

    Steve @
    Dog Training Tips for Dog Lovers

  22. I am in desperate need of help. I have a 5 yr old female German Shepherd & it is no doubt that she has separation anxiety. She has all the signs: panting, licking her paws, using the bathroom in the basement, clawing at the doors, broke her teeth & bloodied her paws to break out of her crate (in which she succeeded & destroyed the crate), breaking & moving things around the room, refusing to eat/drink while we are gone, following me from room to room & leaning against me. We used to keep her outside when we were gone until she started running through the invisible fence & then jumping our wood fence. The next option we tried was taking her to doggie daycare but after a couple weeks they told us that she was jumping their 6 foot fence so they were keeping her confined. Since she was crate trained since she was a puppy & seemed to have no problem with staying her crate in the past, I decided I would put her in her crate during the day (my husband & I both work outside the home)instead of paying someone else to do it. For whatever reason, she started trying to break out of it. I would come home at lunch everyday hoping she hadn’t hurt herself. Once she put about an inch & half gash on her brow, broke some of her teeth, broke several nails to get out, I knew the crate was no longer an option. We had a nice finished basement, in which we had to pull up the carpet because she would use the bathroom on it. Now she just uses the bathroom on the concrete floor even though I let her out before I leave for work, at lunch, when I get home & another time before bed. I know she can hold it as she does for at least 8-10 hours every night. The vet prescribed her the doggie Prozac but I do not see much of an improvement & will probably take her off of it. I take her for a walk in the morning & evening. I have tried putting up a gate/shutting the door when I go into a different room, leaving for a few minutes at a time so she would get used to it. At this point, I find it better to keep her on a schedule so she knows what to expect. I don’t make a big deal out of coming or going & don’t punish/yell at her for her behavior as it makes no sense to do it after the fact & she doesn’t do these things when we are there. I have contacted dog trainers in the area but it seems they only offer command training. The dog is very intelligent & knows several “tricks”. Any behavioral trainers live out of my area (a couple hours away since I live in a relatively small town). Unfortunately due to a job change, I cannot afford to pay for behavioral training at this time anyway. So right now, she is in my basement with next to nothing in the room, probably using the bathroom on the floor, jumping at the sound of any large trucks & scratching at the doors. At lunch, I will go home to let her out, clean up with some non-ammonia cleaner only to come home from work to do the same thing all over again. I hate knowing she is so stressed out that she is compelled to do these things. She is destroying our home & my husband is livid. She is a great dog when we are there, my daughter is attached to her as am I so I don’t want to get rid of her (as most people will probably think is the only option). This has been going on for at least 2 years. We have not moved, work 8-5 as we have for years so there are no significant changes that have occurred. There has to be some other options to relieve our dog’s anxiety so someone please tell me what I can do.

  23. Lindsay Stordahl

    I’m glad to hear you are being so patient with your dog and willing to keep her despite her issues. I also know how stressful and frustrating this problem is. Unfortunately there is no easy answer and I do not have much advice other than what I’ve listed above in the post.

    If there’s any chance she might use interactive toys while you are gone, I would get a bunch of them and fill them with her absolute favorite goodies. Try peanut butter or even EZ cheese. I am assuming though, that she is so panicked when you leave that she won’t even look at toys?

    You do need to stick to a routine with her as I know you are doing. Is there anyway you could take two weeks off of work and really work with her on conditioning to be left alone for short periods?

    I know you live in a small town, but I also suggest looking for another dog daycare. Perhaps there is one with a different environment that would work for her, one that is indoors with no fences, for example. I also recommend looking for a dog walker who could come take her out for LONG walks during the day, like 2 hour walks even though you come home during lunch. Again, I know your options are limited because of where you live. Perhaps you could put out a Craigslist or newspaper classified ad to find someone willing to come walk her during the day.

    Look for ways to give her mental and physical exercise. German shepherds are one of the most intelligent and high-energy breeds as you know. It’s safe to assume she is getting nowhere near the exercise she needs. Try biking with her for a good six miles twice a day. Or try rollerblading with her. Get a dog backpack for her and make her wear it during walks so she has a job to do. She absolutely must have a job.

    You may even want to consider adopting a second dog to keep her company during the day. You will want to be VERY careful about the dog you choose and find one that is very calm and comfortable when left alone so your current dog does not influence the new dog. It’s usually a mistake to adopt a second dog if you are having behavior issues with your current dog, but in this case it is something to at least think about. She may feel a little more comfortable if she has another dog with her.

    I will send out this post over Facebook and Twitter again to see if I get any additional feedback from anyone and will let you know if I come across any additional suggestions.

  24. Wow, yeah – I would say that try another daycare. My Gus get pretty bad separation anxiety but I found an awesome daycare for him. I feel very lucky! He loves the people there and they spoil him and even give him a bit of special treatment.

    I also agree – mental and physical exercise!

    Good luck!

  25. Lindsay Stordahl

    Kimberlee, see some additional comments on my Facebook page:

    Here is some good advice from Heather:

    “Kimberlee’s problems are almost like reading our own story although her situation is a little more extreme! A crate was the only way to go for us. It helped keeping it in a common area where everyone hangs out, feeding her in it, giving her toys (initially giving new toys often) & treats and keeping the door open while your sitting close by to encourage her to use it and see it as a safe & happy place. Buying one oversized is good so they aren’t cramped. (initially leaving her in a room alone only lead to complete destruction)
    We also had to take some time off initially to do “24 hour surveillance”. Can also try leaving a worn shirt/sweatshirt with her during the day.
    Having 2 dogs has definitely helped them both but you really need to find just the right personalities to make it work or you’ll have a bigger problem on your hands. btw…99% of the anxiety issues you listed we dealt with or deal with currently, I guess we’re more patient than I thought or really wanted our marriage tested???? HA! My final advice….an extreme amount of Patience & routine/consistency & TLC”

  26. I appreciate all the feedback. I do leave a kong filled with peanut butter & some other toys while we are gone. Once the peanut butter is gone, I hear her start pacing again & trying to move things around (while we are home I occasionally put her in the place she stays during the day in hopes she wouldn’t only associate it with us leaving).
    Unfortunately, another daycare is not an option as that was the only one in town & has since closed. I can’t take off work since I have only been in my job a short time & do not have the vacation time. We really don’t have the money in our budget to pay for a dog walker & I am a little hesitant having someone I don’t know come take her for walks because they would have to come in the house to get her.
    I am going to try giving her a old, recently worn T-shirt to see if that will help. There is a good chance it will be ripped to shreds by the time I come home for lunch though. I definitely will purchase a backpack for our walks. She does need more exercise. It would take a while to get her used to walking beside a bicycle. I am a little afraid she will pull or get in front of the wheel. At this point I am willing to try anything. Thanks again to everyone for the suggestions & I will check back frequently to see if there are any other pointers.

  27. Lindsay Stordahl

    I wish you the best of luck. If you haven’t already, out the Kong toy filled with peanut butter in the freezer for a few hours and then give it to her – lasts longer that way. And leave several interactive toys like that out for her.

  28. Kimberly-
    I feel for you because I’m going through the EXACT same thing, except my dog is a Yorkie and does far less damage than a GSD!
    Dash is the classic “velcro” dog – I can’t even give him affection because it winds him up so much. Dash did everything your dog did (the crate especially made it worse). My neighbors complained so much my landlord was going to evict me, so my dog is now staying with my parents out in the suburbs. Where, by the way, he has no separation anxiety. So the problem clearly lies with me!
    A few things made it a little better: I got the anxiety wrap ( and that eased his anxiety quite a bit, but didn’t cure it. I also got Through a Dog’s Ear music CD. I stopped letting him come into the bathroom with me and my bedroom when I got dressed. I got him his own bed and he’s not allowed to sleep with me (or anyone else) anymore. He’s not allowed to follow me around the house anymore, either. Those few things have made a big difference, believe it or not. He was already getting massive amounts of exercise, so I didn’t need to improve on that.
    There is also a book by Patricia McConnell on separation anxiety – check for it on It tells you step by step how to handle this problem. I found it very helpful.
    BTW, Dash was ultimately put on Clomicalm. We had tried xanax and valium, neither of which had any effect. The Clomicalm definitley took an edge off and seemed to make it easier for him to LEARN new behaviors (like not following me around). But it didn’t solve it. He’s no longer on the medication, I was worried about long term effects.

  29. Thank you for those suggestions about the anxietywrap and the Dog’s Ear music CD. I’m glad you understand the importance of not allowing the dog to follow you everywhere you go. I can’t stress enough how important that is, and most people seem to make the problem even worse by allowing the dog to do this and rewarding the dog for the behavior by coddling it. I wasn’t aware of Patricia McConnell’s book. I’m sure it’s very helpful!

    Glad you took your dog off the medication. I can see why it would be an option, but not for long term. Thanks for your comment.

  30. Yeah, I was really torn about putting him on the meds, especially the xanax and valium. I just was at my wits end – and I had tried a lot of homeopathic remedies (over a course of about 4 months) first and they just didn’t help enough. Medication should definitelyl be a last resort. I worry about the effects…

  31. I totally understand. With my foster dog, I was at the point where he either had to go somewhere else or I would’ve had to try some medication. He ended up going to a new foster home and then was adopted fairly quickly so it worked out for him. Sometimes you really have to choose between medication or giving up the dog. Hopefully most people will look at the medication as a temporary aid rather than a permanent solution. It should be used in addition to working with the dog on getting used to being alone.

  32. Hey Guys,
    I am having a huge problem with my Jindo mix. He is a fantastic dog, until he is home alone. He was fine until my boyfriend and I split up and my boyfriend was no longer at the apt all the time. Then everything thing got bad. First he tore the door jamb off of the front door. About a week later he actually clawed a good size hole in my wall. I took him to a trainer who said that crating him would be best. Now, he is already crate trained and will go in his crate on command with no problem…as long as I’m there. But when I leave he freaks out. He barks and cries and tries to tear his crate apart. I have started him on a drug my vet gave me for him and I hope it will make a difference but is there anything I can do in the mean time? I do walk him right before I leave for about 3 miles (about all I can walk lol) with a doggy back pack. I just want him to stop hurting him self and stop tearing up my apartment. I left a video camera on and its so hard to watch, he is really freaking out. I am just at a loss as to what to do. I know he can be a good dog when home alone so Im not ready to give up on him yet. Is this something that will stop when he’s gotten used to my boyfriend not being around or what?
    Please help!

  33. Well, the main thing is a lot of patience. I totally understand what you are going through. I went through this with many foster dogs and I did have to find other arrangements for the dogs because of my apartment setting. I am going through this with a foster dog right now as well, just a much milder case.

    Definitely use all the suggestions from the post and in the comments. Stick to a consistent routine, put one of your recently worn T-shirt in the kennel with him, stock it full of tempting goodies. Be very consistent and know that it does take some time, possibly a few months, but it should get better. I would definitely keep him in the crate. Although he is destructive to the crate, that is better than destroying walls and doors. You may have to replace the crate a few times and try different kinds.

    Although increased exercise will not solve the problem because of his crazy state of mind, it should lesson the anxiety some if you can at least double his daily miles to six. You could also consider hiring a dog walker to come every day to break up the time alone for him and to give him more exercise. You could also consider dog daycare.

    I wish there was an easier solution. Separation anxiety is a big problem. There are many other people and dogs going through this, so you are not alone.

    1. I cant put anything in the crate, he just tears up any cloth or bedding and treats he just ignores. I have bad knees so a 6 mile walk is really out of the questions, 3 makes them sore and I still have to work after said walk.
      Doggie day care is kind of out, I am a student and am broke…any money that could have gone to doggy day care is now going to fix the hole in my wall. Plus I leave and come home really late, so I wouldnt be able to pick him up till the Am unless they are they at 10 at night lol.
      Any tips on finding a dog walker? Its hard because they would have to come into my apartment and have access to everything, how do you find someone trust worthy??

      1. Check to see if there are any professional dog walkers in your area. If you can’t find any through a Google search, then search on Craigslist. If you still can’t find one, then consider hiring a college student. No matter who you hire, check references.

  34. Hi, I have just brought my 7 week old jack russell puppy, There mum abandoned them at 4 weeks so for the last 3 weeks they have been having puppy food and water so all weened. He will be going for his jabs this weekend but i think he is lonely, He has a crate which he does go in but he cries so much at night i dont know what to do. I am now going to have to go to work and leave him, what should i do to stop him crying?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      With a young puppy like that, the absolute most important thing to do is completely ignore the barking/crying. He may bark for an entire night straight, but if you only give him attention when he’s quiet, he should catch on quickly that to get out of the kennel he has to be quiet. Practice leaving him and if he is quiet for even two seconds, go back to him and let him out of the crate. If he cries and paws at the kennel, wait until he’s quiet before you go back to him.

  35. Hello!

    I just adopted a chihuahua puppy, Aquinas, from the humane society who spent his first three months of life (he’s four months old now) at a puppy mill. He is super sweet and is very quiet when we’re with him, but as soon as we put him in a kennel or the bathroom, he flips out shrieking (and even chewing the bottom of the bathroom door). We live in an apartment and I’m very worried the neighbors will complain.

    Your article has given me a lot of good information! I’m excited to use these techniques to teach him how to be well behaved and secure while my husband and I are gone.

    My husband is a big softie and can’t stand it when the puppy cries. We tried crating Aquinas yesterday. My plan was to put him in there for about an hour. In five minutes my husband was letting him out. We made a compromise and my husband left so he didn’t have to deal with it. It took 20 minutes, but as soon as the puppy was quiet for about 20 seconds, I let him out and he seemed just fine. He even had fun exploring the crate later when there was no threat of leaving him there.

    Will he still learn if I let him out soon after he stops barking? Is it ok if I leave him in the kennel for a quick errand even though he’s still in the beginning stages of being trained?

    Thank you so much for your help! 🙂

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would always make a point to let him out when he’s not barking, whether he’s been quiet for 30 seconds or 30 minutes. Right now, celebrate the small successes. It might take a long time to train him, but if you are consistent, it will pay off in the end – trust me! You are doing the right thing by kennel training him. This will keep him safe and will protect your property. Hopefully he’ll start to feel safe and secure in his kennel if you never use it as a punishment. Always feed him in there and always completely ignore the crying, and you should see some improvements.

      As for leaving him when you do errands, I think that’s a good idea. Keep the errands as short as possible. But it’s not like you can be home all the time. I’m assuming you have a job or school.

  36. Interesting article. I’ve been struggling with separation anxiety in my own dog. Our home was anything but a happy place to be in. Luckily my beloved Labrador is now cured and a lot of the techniques we used are mentioned in this article.

    Great stuff!

  37. My dog is a shelter dog I got him when he was six mounths old. I started him in a crate it worked great to the point where he did not need it any more 6 years later and he has lost his mind. he has jumped out of every window screen he can and jumped out a glass window. I put him back in a crate and it is not working. i renforced the crate and all he did was broke the metal bars so bad he got out I dont know what to do. we love are dog and so do my kids. I dont want to give up but I have tried almost all the things that you have said is there a good crate that is not overly priced he is just a bird dog mix what should I do I need help. He has got out a total of 3 times already

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Have you spoken with a trainer in your area? This is very serious if your dog is getting out. I suggest finding some professional help. There are some “indestructible” kennels out there, but they are expensive. I’d look into one if you can swing it. Could you take him to dog daycare? Also, look into a product called the Thundershirt. Who knows, it might help calm him even a little bit, which could make a difference. I assume you’re using Kong toys to keep him occupied and that is not helping? Have you had a change in your lifestyle that has caused him some major stress? Poor guy, and poor you! I hope you can figure something out.

  38. I have had a bullmastiff for just over a week she has just turned one. She has been in Kennels for two months and thus wees and poos in her bedroom that i have a child gate on and also a crate in big enough for her. I have two springers who ar e9 and 7 who share the room with her for four hours whilst i am at work in the morning and then i come home at lunch for 20 minutes to let them out then i go back to work foa further four hours. I am going to put her in the crate tomorrow and see how she settles, she does go to the toilet in the garden when i am home so it must be some sort of sepeartaion thing. thanks for your advice and all future advice greatly appreciated. Steve

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Definitely try the crate and see how that goes. I’m sure you are keeping her on an consistent feeding schedule? If you feed her and then walk her right afterwards, she should eliminate outside on the walk. But I’m sure you’re experienced enough with dogs to have that figured out!

      It’s probably a separation thing. But it’s also very possible that while she lived at the kennel/shelter she got in the habit of going to the bathroom right in the dog run she stayed in. The unfortunate truth is that dogs don’t get outside as often as they should at these places due to limited staff and limited hours where staff is working. Hopefully by putting her in a crate, you will be able to take care of this problem. Your other dogs might be happier with her in the crate for now, too!

      Good luck!

  39. I have a yorkie she is 7 years old.about 9months ago she started whinning and crying when im gone nothing has changed she gets out alot walking playing the vet said shes in good health i have tried everything i can toys dog sitters they say she crys still but as soon as im there shes fine what else can i do

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Do you have a kennel for her? I would get her used to one if you don’t. That can be her place to relax and feel safe. If you are not in an apartment, then you don’t have to worry so much about the crying. It will stop eventually if she realizes crying does not get her what she wants. If you are in an apartment or if your neighbors can hear her, then you have a larger issue. I’m sure you’ve tried giving her Kong toys filled with peanut butter? If not, try that. Make sure to ignore her when you come back. You don’t want her to feel like it is a reward when you come home. You want her to associate rewards with you leaving. So give her the best treats, toys and goodies when you leave. Ignore her when you come home. And don’t act nervous or sad or guilty when you leave or she will pick up on that. Don’t feel bad for leaving her or she will feel bad and cry. Instead, think about what a lucky, spoiled little dog she is and how she has a nice, safe place to stay at when you leave. If you feel confident and happy when you leave, then it will help her feel OK being left behind. They really do pick up on our emotions.

  40. My dog has had separation anxiety since I got him (about 5 years ago). I’ve moved a few times since then, due to school and work, and at each location he’s had different issues. He’s shredded curtains, jumped out a screened window (and then a screened sunroom), pooped on the floor…pretty much you name it, he’s done it (except for chewing shoes and furniture, thank god).
    At my most recent apartment, he would scratch the door after we left and drooled a small lake in front of it.
    I’ve tried crate training him–using the methods you mentioned in your post–but he has never taken to it like the dogs who *love* their crates. He has broken out of every crate I’ve used–now up to about 3 different ones. The only method I’ve been able to come up with is to use a bike lock on the door, which he hasn’t been able to break out of. My neighbors have said that while I’m gone and he’s in the crate, he cries so much that it sounds like someone is torturing him (this also varies–sometimes they say he was silent and other times he’s crying for hours). He’s just getting to the point where I can come home and there won’t be drool all over the bottom of the crate, but like the crying, that is hit or miss. I’ve tried to leave pb kongs with him, and special treats he only gets when I’m gone, but he ignores those completely and if he’s not in the crate he will instead have picnics with the garbage or whatever other people food is in his reach (we have figured out how to dog-proof the house from this by keeping this stuff out of his reach and locking the garbage in the bathroom).
    I just purchased a thundershirt after reading about it on this thread, and I hope that works to help calm him down. I’m hoping I can get him to drop some of this behavior by adding more exercise and the thundershirt. I’ve tried so many different things, from super amounts of exercise, to vet-prescribed drugs…I refuse to give him up because he is such a good dog when I’m around, and after 5 years saying I’m pretty attached is an understatement. It’s just hard to know that he drives everyone else crazy when I’m trying SO hard to make it better!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’ve had ha few foster dogs that were a lot like your dog with separation anxiety. It’s so, so hard to deal with. Could you take him to dog daycare during the workweek just to cut back on some of his (and your) stress and to give your neighbors a break?

      I do think you should keep leaving him in the crate for his own safety, as you are doing.

      This is going to sound crazy, but the better your attitude is, the more it will help your dog calm down (even slightly) when you leave. I’m sure you are anxious when you leave him, thinking about his safety and stress and the damage he will cause. I know the Thundershirt is not going to solve your problem, but in addition to many other techniques it could help a bit.

      Also, I’m assuming he goes into a panic the second you try to put him in the crate? If you make it your goal to get him to enter the crate in a calm state of mind, you could eventually build on that. If he’s freaking out and throwing himself against the door and fighting you as you walk him into the crate, he’s going to remain in that panicked state of mind. But if you can practice over and over again putting him in the crate, rewarding him and walking him right back out, you might make a small amount of progress to build on. From there, you could practice shutting the door. From there, you could practice shutting the door and turning your back. Then practice leaving the room for one second. This is going to take a ridiculous amount of time and patience and it may seem like you are getting nowhere, but that is what I would try if I were you.

      And one more thing, do you think he would feel better if you had another dog stay home with him? Do you have any friends or family members with calm dogs who could stay home with him in a crate next to him for a day just to see if that helps? Then maybe you would want to consider adopting a second dog, and only the perfect dog for this situation. Chances are, he’s so anxious that another dog won’t help. But it might be something to think about.

      Thanks for your comment and good luck. Let me know if you come across anything that helps.

  41. Yeah, we live with another dog now and they do well together, but the complex I’m moving into has a 1-dog policy. We are looking to buy a house around this time next year, and a second dog is definitely in the question then.
    Doggie daycare would be an option maybe once a week, but he doesn’t always play nice with other dogs; he always wants to be the most dominant one which can lead to tiffs etc. He does well with dogs he knows, so he plays with my brother’s dog fairly often.
    I went and got a backpack today for him too, to try and really exhaust him mentally during walks and WOW!! what a difference!!
    Hopefully I’ll be able to find a good combination to help fix his issues. He’s such a good boy otherwise! 🙂

  42. I have tried just about everything to get my 6 month old puppy to stop crying when I leave. He has cried since the day I brought him home just over 4 months ago. He has had periods of time that were more calm when left alone but each time he wasn’t truly alone (being with my mom’s dogs) Two days I moved into an apartment. I have already had two people mention to me that he has been crying all day (I knew this was happening, but not at that length.) My hope was that he calmed down after awhile. I know he is just getting used to his new environment but that is a hard thing to explain to the neighbors.

    The routine has been the same since day 1. For the past month and a half I give him a Kong filled with peanut butter (although never frozen, must try that). He is calm for a second, eats the peanut butter and then screams. It isn’t just a cry or a wimper. It is a full blown scream. I live on the 3rd floor and I could hear him down at my car.

    We have been going to the dog park and did again today at lunch time. He walked, ran and played for a long time. He even laid down after only the first flight of stairs. I thought he was worn out enough that this afternoon would be better. He was crying by the time I got down to my car…

    It makes me sad that he cries all day. It can not be a good experience for him. I would never think of giving him away but I also do not want to face eviction or angry, bitter neighbors.

    Any other suggestions to get poor little Oliver to calm down? I have considered getting him a brother or sister. But then what happens if I have 2 screaming dogs. I just feel lost..

    1. Forgot to add..He does not cry when I am home. Otherwise a pretty good dog. Will occassionally bark at other dogs when outside but after a few seconds is calm and could care less there are other people/dogs around. Has done one session of puppy school. Does tend to stay pretty close to me during the day/when I am home.

      When he was a puppy he would go to the bathroom in his kennel. I thought it was because he truly couldn’t hold it. Then for a long time he stopped going in his kennel. Since we moved in to the new place I have had to clean his bed both at lunch time when I go to let him outside and then when I get home at the end of the day…

  43. My wife and I bought a 6 month old weimaraner from a breeder who was home all day and the dog was never in a cage or on a leash. I work shift work and my wife works regular day shift monday through friday so there are days where he has to go in his cage. he had a hard time with it at first. he still barks for a little while when we leave and when i return his bed in his cage is flipped over and drool everywhere. recently i returned home and later noticed scratches on the top of his head as if he was rubbing his head against the cage because he was so nervous. any tips?

  44. Lots of time and patience. Do all you can to make the kennel a good experience. Give him Kong toys filled with peanut butter and frozen overnight. Use two or three of these and also put his favorite treats in there. Try to put him in the crate when he’s in a calm state of mind so he has an easier time remaining calm. You could also try buying him one of those Thundershirts which are designed to “swaddle” the dog and help them feel calmer. This won’t help the problem on its own but might help slightly in addition to everything else.

    Give him lots of exercise before and after work, like an hour of running twice a day. I know how active Weimeraners are.

    Only let him out if he is quiet. Stick to a routine so life is predictable and he can relax a bit.

    You could turn a fan on in the room facing him to help him cool down and relax and also drown out some noise. Also some talk radio or TV.

    Put him in the kennel for a few minutes here and there when you are home so he doesn’t associate the kennel with you leaving. Also put him in his kennel while you are in the room with him. Just teach him that the kennel is no big deal.

    You could even practice some obedience commands where he has to sit or lie down in his crate with the crate door open and then he gets a treat while staying. Then release him and repeat. Make it fun. If he loves treats, you can even give him a command “kennel” and then give him a treat for going in his kennel. Then let him come right back out. Then slowly increase the time he is in the kennel before he gets the treat. Two seconds. Three seconds. 10 seconds. 30 seconds and so on. As long as he waits quietly for the pre-determined amount of time, he gets a treat.

    Start with small expectations and build from there.

  45. thank you so much for your help i an going to try all of this. My dog is not a foster dog and has never acted like this until we move to Melbourne from Queensland. She whines even after being walked and just wont stop. Our neighbors were so mean we had to move home. Do you think its a good idea maybe to get another dog to keep her company? Iv just run out of ideas, and its killing me that i can not help her.

  46. You know, I’ve heard some people who have had success getting another dog. The problem is, it has to be the right dog or you will just end up with two problem dogs. You’d have to find one that is very, very calm and laid back and stable, and it’s hard to find a dog like that.

    I’m sure you’ve tried everything I could recommend – lots of goodies in Kong-type toys, lots of exercise, sticking to a routine, etc. You could try the Thundershirt, too.

    And I would also suggest to make sure you are not feeling anxious or guilty yourself when you leave her. This is something I am becoming more aware of. If I feel guilty for leaving my dog in his crate, he is likely to yip. If I think to myself, “He is one lucky dog to have a nice, climate-controlled room and a soft bed and treats,” then I do not feel one bit guilty and my dog will calmly chew on his bone or take a nap. It makes a huge difference.

  47. How do you handle a dog that is destructive in the crate when the door is closed? My newly adopted rat terrier is fine in the crate when the door is open but once it shuts he freaks out.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would help him learn that nothing bad happens when you close the door by tossing him a favorite treat (something like hotdogs or real chicken) and closing the door for a second and opening it right away. Do that like 20 times in a day for a few days. Then slowly increase the amount of time the door is shut. Two seconds. Five seconds. Always keep it positive with the best treats.

  48. I have a little different problem with my almost 5 yr old Bichon Frise. This is our first dog and I got her after I retired, so I am home most of the time with her. She definitely has separation anxiety when I leave the house, even if my husband is home. She is sad the whole time I’m gone, he says and tries to engage her, but she goes right back to the door and waits for my return. She usually will not eat when I am gone, unless I’m gone for extended lengths of time. When I return she whines, barks, and jumps and acts like she is mad at me and even acts like she would like to nip at me, but doesn’t. And I have done all the wrong things I see, I always have tried to console her and I let her follow me from room to room all day long…I didn’t realize this was abnormal behavior! I guess my main question is, can I retrain her and change this cycle after allowing it for so long? It seems cruel for me to not let her stay in the same room with me if I’m going to be in that room for a while, she has a bed in my office and in the kitchen/living room, and she sleeps with us on the bed, which I would like to change that because her wanting to be closer seems to be getting worse. Thanks so much for your suggestions!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It is never too late to start helping a dog through separation issues. I would definitely stop allowing her to sleep in your bed, at least for a few months while you work on this problem. At least have her sleep on a dog bed next to your bed or in a kennel next to your bed. If you truly want to help her, then you can’t feel bad about it. I know it’s hard. You are helping her to build confidence by not allowing her to follow you around everywhere. You can let her in your office with you, but you don’t have to allow her in all the time. When you come home and she is jumping and crying or trying to nip, the best thing you can do is completely ignore her for a good five minutes. When she is relaxed, then give her some attention.

  49. I too have a similar situation as all the previous ones. My boy, almost 2 now, has always been a big crier whenever I leave. Lately he has started the accidents in the house, as well as scratching paint off doors trying to get into other rooms (I keep him in his “space” while we’re gone, which is the living room). We have tried just about everything with him from citronella collars, natural herbal remedies, a ridiculous amount of exercise, timed leaving where we would leave for a couple minutes and come back, crate training (which he would end up hurting himself multiple times throughout), and now e-collars (which he has broken 3 of, I believe due to the frequency of use). NOTHING has seemed to work, and we have pissed off quite a few neighbors since we live in a rental. I’m at my wits end and just have no more ways to go, and the fact that I’m relocating overseas next year for grad school makes me terrified of the idea of rehoming him(definitely NOT something I want to do to him). Any suggestions of anything else to try? At this point I’ve even looked into debarking =/

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Have you tried anti-anxiety medication? I normally don’t recommend that, but you have tried everything else. The goal would be to get him on some calming medication and then slowly condition him to being left alone either in “his” room or in a crate. Then slowly wean him off the drugs. I would talk to your vet about it. Perhaps you have already, but that’s the one thing you didn’t mention.

  50. Help, I have a 3yr old Jack Russell who has quite severe separation anxiety. He isn’t left for long only enough time for us to do shopping. When left he barks and barks and barks. Neighbours are not happy as we have only been there for 4 weeks. I am at a complete loss on what to do. He also barks when he is being taken out and finds it really hard to stop and calm down again annoying the neighbours. When we are indoors he is the perfect dog. Please help as we love Stanley to bits.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      What have you tried so far? Do you use a kennel? Do you take him out for long walks and running every day? I would start with increasing his exercise a ton and make him eat all his food from Kong-type or puzzle-type toys so he has to work for every single piece of kibble. That will help get rid of some of the mental anxiety and obviously the exercise will get rid of some physical energy.

      You could also look into a citronella collar which sprays the dog in the face when he barks.

  51. Hi, we take Stanley out 3 times per day and he runs constantly around a field at these times. I am worried that he would not eat if I put all of his food in a puzzle type ball and would get bored of it easily. What do think is the reason that he barks when we take him out is? We cannot stop him from barking even into 5 minutes of being out xx

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think he needs more structure. Take him for long walks keeping him right at your side on a short leash. Or run with him in this way. Get him a dog backpack to wear to burn up more mental and physical exercise. Feed him in Kongs as I suggested. He probably won’t touch them for a few days. That’s fine. He will work at them when he is hungry enough. If you really worry about him not eating enough, then make him practice obedience for every single piece of food. Or feed him little bits here and there on your walks when he is walking nicely beside you. Don’t feed him from a bowl at all.

  52. Wow, I love this blog, it is better than Netflix. My Anabella used to become stressed and anxious when I left or returned home. After doing my homework, I realized it was all my fault. Poor lil pooch had a silly untrained mom. It was the hardest thing for me to ignore her when I came home. It hurt me more than her, or so I thought. It took about 3 hard, for me, weeks and one day. I came home and she stayed on the bed looking out the window. It hurt, I almost wanted to cry, for a moment. I waited 20 mins and than called her to me and gave her a ton of lovins. I think she is better now. However, sometimes I take her next door to visit with an elderly neighbor friend. Francis, my neighbor, told me that Anabella bites her feet when she is there.
    Could this be anxiety? I did not think so cuz I have to drag the dog out of Francis’s house. Those two are thick as thieves. So cute. Anabella does not bite her neighbor Francis, and she loves going over there.
    I hope I am not creating another issue. I don’t bring her over there everyday but just a few times a week.
    It keeps Francis moving and it seems to make them both happy.
    Sheeze how to know when I am making my dog nuts is another good topic.
    Anabella is my first dog and I am sick in love with her. She is so sweet and so Low Chen.
    Thanks for the site.
    It is nice to feel I am not alone in my supreme love for the small and furries.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m not sure what you mean about the dog biting her feet? Is it a playful bite? Too much excitement?

  53. Our dog Lucy has all of the symptoms of separation anxiety other than the barking or going potty in the crate (thank goodness). The odd part is that we have had her for nearly 2 years and when we first got her she was about 1 1/2 and she adjusted better than expected to our routine and home. She was clearly mistreated by her past owners and dropped off at a pound about 3 months before we adopted her. We recently (3 months ago) moved to a house, with a yard and more space. Of course we thought she would be so excited. Within 3 days she dug a hole in the carpet by the front door while we were at work. Our new house allows us to only leave her alone for about 4-5 hours at a time instead of the 8-9 we used to before but even the added walks and potty breaks don’t seem to help. Our vet suggested crating her after the carpet incident and she would have sever panic attacks eventually escaped and cut up her face in the process. We quickly realized she had a serious problem. The vet did suggest drugs temporarily which helped but have not solved the problem and we are in the process of weaning her off of them. She is not ok while we are at work, we lock her in our bedroom with her crate if she wants it but also with treats, her kong, our bed that smells like us and her water. This seems to work ok however whenever we try to leave her at night, she digs at the carpet by our bedroom door. We had crate trained her from the night we brought her home and she gets in the crate willingly at bed time, however just in the last week or so she has started freaking out about 15 minutes after going in the crate at bedtime. We have no idea why, the first time it happened she seemed spooked but it has happened 4 or 5 times since and we can’t explain it. We have been waiting to have the carpet repaired until she adjusts the house but at this rate I don’t know if she ever will. We’ve read tons about what to do, we ignore her in the morning before we leave for work and when we get home. We have a thunder shirt for her which I think has helped. We give her herbal calming treats to help and we walk her and try get a running in as often as possible.

    She is the greatest dog otherwise and we just don’t know what to do anymore. Taking her back is not an option, but I hate spending my time out with my husband worrying about her or worse, staying home just to make sure she doesn’t damage anything or get hurt.

    What should we do?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Gosh, that is so hard. To me, this sounds like a case where you should keep her on the medication for now until she seems to calm down some. I would continue a conversation with her vet about the medication and make sure she is on the best dosage and kind of meds.

      Originally, when you adopted her, what did you do during those first two weeks or so to help her adjust to your routine? Where did she sleep at night? Where did you leave her when you went to work? How much exercise did she get? I would try to think back to that time and almost start over again with her.

      I always recommend that people stick with the crate whenever the dog is being destructive, especially when the dog is somewhat kennel trained.

      Does she freak out if she is alone in another room while you are home? I would slowly create that type of “mild” separation even when you are home.

      During the day while you are at work, would it be possible to hire a dog walker to visit her once a day?

  54. Hello,

    Thank-you for taking the time to answer questions; it is most appreciated.

    I have adopted a 5 year-old shih tzu; today is our first day with her. It is just my husband, me and our 2 cats, who are pretty OK with dogs. She came from a breeder’s place where she was one of 5 female dogs and 2 males (separated); they all lived in their owners’ home, and I have learned that Sabrina slept on her owners bed.

    When I first went to visit her, I enjoyed how affectionate she was, jumping straight into my lap and “cuddling up.” In reading your article, I now realize this was insecure behaviour, that should not be rewarded, unless the dog is in a calm state. Soon after getting her home today, I realized that this dog has probably never been left alone. We don’t plan on leaving her home all day, anyway – my husband works from home, and in a few months time, I will be able to take her to work, where I work doing psychotherapy.

    However, she can’t seem to be left anywhere alone without crying. She wants to come into the bathroom, follows me room-to-room, and just now, I have crated her for the first time (with a peanut butter kong), and she is NOT happy. I am sitting in the room with her, ignoring her, which as you know, is hard.

    I’ve taken her out for a walk, but I realize now that she’s probably a very fearful dog – she stuck close to me the whole time. Is this going to be a lost cause? I’m wondering if, at 5 years old, she’s going to be able to adjust to being alone in a room for even a few minutes. If not, we may have to return her to the breeder, or perhaps re-home her with someone who has another dog, which would be sad.

    I’ve done a lot of reading on dog behaviour in anticipation of getting a dog (I’ve wanted one for years), but I’m a first-time dog owner. My husband has had dogs before, but doesn’t have a great deal of tolerance for “problems,” which was largely why we chose to adopt an adult dog. I guess this was something I should have anticipated and didn’t!

    I’m just waiting for her to settle down a bit, and then I will let her out of her crate for a bit. I’m thinking I’ll just increase the amounts of time she stays in there, but only let her out once she’s calm – if that ever happens! Your thoughts?

    Any help you could provide, Lindsay, would be much appreciated. Thanks again for taking the time to help out.

  55. PS. In re-reading my email, I didn’t mean it to sound as though I am thinking of giving up on this sweet dog after the first day – not at all! I am a physician, specializing in psychotherapy, and I believe strongly that most problems can be solved, often with a change in behaviour.

    I guess my real question is whether, at 5 years old, this dog is too old to change her ways, and whether we are being cruel in expecting her, too. Because she lived with “a pack,” she is beautifully socialized to other dogs – but it didn’t occur to me that the flip side of this is that she’s probably never been alone. I suspect the answer is “it’s hard to know,”but I’m hoping you might have some ideas for how to increase this little dog’s confidence. When I heard she’d slept with her owner in his bed, I thought “isn’t that sweet?” – now I realize I probably shouldn’t continue this – even if it’s what she’s used to.

    Could be in for some noisy nights – I’m thinking we’ll have to “Ferber-ize” the dog to help her develop the capacity to self-soothe!

    Again, thanks, Lindsay.

    1. Dear Jennifer, How are you doing with Sabrina? I am really sorry to hear you are having such challenges. I recognized from your description that I met Sabrina and have visited this breeder. Sabrina is a lovely dog and very friendly. In fact, we have just adopted a dog from this breeder and are having the same problems with anxiety and behaviours you describe inside the house. We are also having problems with her on walks – she is so fearful of other dogs she tries to run and hide. We have been working with her for a week and she is not really improving, I have extensive experience with dogs. I am home with her 8 hours a day as I work from home. I would really be interested to email with you directly or talk on the phone about these dogs. We are really heartbroken and do not want to give up either but we want to do what is best for this little dog. I am hoping you have made some progress.

      1. Hello Laura,
        Sorry – I just saw this now.
        I’m curious as to whether you adopted from the same breeder – where was this?
        Happily, little Sabrina has settled in wonderfully. She still follows me around a lot, but not in an unhealthy way (more in a “dog way,” lol). She fits in wonderfully here, and at work, where I take her every day. The patients and the rest of the staff adore her – she brightens everyone’s day – and is one of the calmest, friendliest dogs I have ever come across. Everyone who meets her remarks on how calm she is – she loves to be held like a baby, and quickly drops off to sleep, and starts snoring, which of course charms everyone.
        I hope you’re having a better time with the dog you adopted. I wonder if it was from the same breeder?

  56. this post seriously made me feel the tiniest bit better about also returning a foster dog to the shelter instead of adopting her. i too live in an apartment and her separation anxiety was too severe for someone who works out of the home eight hours a day. it was seriously the most difficult thing ive had to do, but reading about how you went through it too made me realize i made the right choice. 🙁

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      One thing that made me feel better was realizing there are thousands of other dogs that need foster homes. There are always ways to help. If I want to foster a dog that does not have separation anxiety, it is possible to find one. And if I can’t foster, there are always other ways I can help.

  57. I rescued a 3 1/2 year old black lab/rottie/pit mix last August. I’ve been told by my vet that he has some “issues”. He definitely follows me around from room to room, even if I just stand up from the couch, he gets up and seems to be ready to follow, even if I don’t move. He paces back and forth when I’m seated watching TV, and just can’t seem to relax. Reading through this list though, he is not destructive (he has never touched ONE object in my house or gone to the bathroom in the house ever). I take him to the vet and he can’t sit down or sit still. If I take him to the groomers for a bath, when I walk away he practically pulls the poor groomer girl out the door with her.

    Sometimes I catch him standing in front of the door just staring at it as if he’s in a trance. Doesn’t bark, whine or make a sound (which kind of creeps me out), he’s just a statue staring at the door. He doesn’t whine when I go upstairs to bed though.

    The vet of course has recommended some meds. He gets a ton of excercise (we also have a 4 mo old puppy and we walk all the time, play at dog park, etc), because even when he’s wiped out passed out on his bed, if I get up to go to the bathroom, kitchen, etc, he’s right behind me. It’s driving me nuts.

    What can I do?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Get him into some obedience classes and start working on some serious obedience with him. This will build his confidence. It will also help if you can work on a solid down/stay where you are able to leave him for a few minutes at a time while you walk around the house doing other things. Eventually you should be able to leave him for a half-hour or more while he stays. In the meantime you can try tethering him to something so he can’t follow you. Ignore him until he is relaxed. If you catch him lying down ignoring you, that’s the perfect time to go over and shower him with praise, attention and treats. Do you give him Kong-type toys filled with extra yummy treats when he is by himself?

  58. We just adopted a 1 1/2 yr. old male dalmatian that was rescued from the pound. When he was put into foster care, he didn’t have much fur and he sores had formed from where he had been left to lie all day. I think he has severe separation anxiety. He was nervous from the get go when we brought him home. My husband and I know that he needs a lot of walks/runs to keep the anxiety at bay. So my husband runs him in the morning/evening and I walk him throughout the day. We both make sure he heels right by our leg while walking/running. He is usually fine when we are home, but if I leave for even an hour I come home to a shaking stressed out dog. As soon as I am home he lays down and sleeps. He also does some of the other things you talked about in your post like following me wherever I go, stressing out if he cannot see me. I hate leaving him home alone, but as you said in your post, he’s a dog, not a human. He is also freaked out by noises. I’m going to try some of the tips that you suggested above. I really hope we get curb this separation anxiety thing! When he’s calm, he’s a great dog.

  59. Our problem is a little different than all the ones I’ve read about. Our dogs are 16 and 14. We’re having anxiety problems with the younger one. He was never a problem until about the last 6 months or so. The older one has to be helped up and has some arthritic pain and cries occasionally when he can’t get up. He’s on medicine and we help him whenever we can. The younger one has lost almost all of his hearing over the past year. We never had a problem before this with him except for biting himself which has never turned into a problem. Has anyone dealt with this “late onset” anxiety disorder. We don’t know if he’s upset because the older one feels sick or insecure because he can’t here. He’s a cattle dog mutt so before he lost his hearing he was very sensitive

    If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. I’m taking him in next week to the vet so I will ask him about it too.

  60. I have 4 dogs that I love dearly but there excitement is over baring. All of them are hysterical every time I go to let them out of there kennels. It’s almost like they’re worried about who gets out first. I’ve tried waiting until they are all quiet but ad soon as I open the door for one they are all up and being crazy again. They are only in their kennels for routine hours during the day and have a huge yard to play in. Am I just not being patient enough or is there another approach that could work for our situation?

  61. This blog have great info, very clear, my case is a little different, my 2 year old YorkiPoo was lost for 8 hours at night time, was terrible the worst moment in our lifes, we found her driving around the next morning at the stret, after we found her she ben acting a little diferent she definitly doesn’t want to be left alone in the house at all, i can leave for 30 min and when i come back she destroy something. She never no eather when was a puppy destroy nothing, this is very not like her, she is a very well behive dogie, i train her when she was 3 month old, sens she is 9 month old we don’t use the crate any more but now i think we will have to use it again, but i just not really sure if is totally necesarie.

  62. Thank you for the tips!

    We are fostering a 6-year old dog with separation anxiety.
    She has severe arthritis so no running, no jumping, on-leash short walks only, otherwise her knees are going to blow out. Her teeth are cracked (from metal chewing, probably wire crate or chain link fence in an attempt to escape) so no tug of war, no bone chewing.

    I thought of bringing her back to the shelter but my little son begged me not to. So I’m trying to make her cope better. My goal is to leave her alone in a crate for one hour.
    She is laid back and after our 15 min. morning walk and breakfast ready for a nap. I moved the crate to our bedroom, where I work, and started to put her there for a few hours. I can go out of the room for a short time but she is still very uneasy about it. So no rushing.

    I ordered a doggie backpack (thanks for the tip!) which she is going to carry empty (as not to stress her joints). We also play hide and seek and treat related games (shell game, which hand). I hope to find some more mental exercises for her.
    She doesn’t like peanut butter so I stuff her toy with plain yoghurt. Which she doesn’t want to eat in her crate. When she is stressed she doesn’t eat – she was so skinny when we got her from the shelter!

    I have to move her out of the bedroom at night because of my husband’s allergy. I tried to crate her in the living room at night but she freaks out. No rushing with her. She just sleeps behind our bedroom door, whining a little bit.

    Hope to help her and find her a home. She so deserves it!

    Thank you again for your time to help others!

  63. Thank you!
    Unfortunately she is not good anywhere: not in the backyard, not in the house. She is destructive trying to escape. She also broke out of the crate twice.
    Well, people say she needs to trust us. But I don’t believe it’s about trust.

  64. Thanks for the tips.
    We recently got a new dog and I was the one taking care of her, and so she’s super attached to me and follows me around the house and cries and claws doors when I leave. She loves her crate unless we leave her and then she will be just shrieking to be let out.
    When we do get home, she goes ballistic and jumps and just has to get to us to say hi. She doesn’t go on walks often at all, we’re really hoping to get started on that soon though. We do have a fenced in backyard that she loves to run around in.
    It’s gotten really annoying for everyone when she does cry and all and we’ve really needed something to do about it.
    This will really help, and once it cools down we’ll try to start with walks and I’ll definitely try to get everyone to do the whole ignoring when we walk in the door.
    Thank you so much for the advice!
    Do you have any other tips?

  65. Hi Lindsay,
    I could really use some advice about a foster dog I am working with who has moderate separation anxiety and clingy-ness. He is a three year old Parson Russell Terrier who’s been shuffled about from one home to another. I have had him for one week and he’s doing better and learning the rules of the house, as well as some basic obedience commands. I have another older, larger dog already, which has been really good for him. Especially because she happens to be the worlds calmest, mellowest, most stable, laid back dog (How lucky am I!).
    However, he still gets SUPER over excited when I come into the house or the room after leaving for more than a few minutes. He jumps, flips about, and gnashes his teeth with curled lips. I try to ignore but I can’t walk in or move around without stepping on him! He does settle down within a few minutes though, and then I praise him.
    My biggest concern is what will happen when he gets another new home. I cannot keep him forever, because he wants to chase my cats (one of whom has palsy and can’t jump or run fast.) I want to keep him here long enough to become more confident and calm. But once he’s doing better, if he is re-homed again will all the progress be reversed? Will the next people have to start from scratch in the new home? The average adopter won’t know how to deal with this stuff. I really don’t want him to end up in shelter again, or in an unhappy home. Any thoughts on how to make permanent changes in this dog?
    Thanks for the great blog!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh gosh. Poor guy! Reminds me of the Pomeranian mix I fostered a few years ago.

      I guess personally I would give the hypothetical adopters more credit. Yes, some people will just make the problem worse by giving affection and encouraging the behavior. But I think most people truly want to do what’s best and if given some advice they could learn to do what you are doing and ignore the behavior while providing him with lots of exercise, structure, routine and of course kindness.

      I think you will be able to help him a lot, but he may fall back on some of the behavior once he gets adopted. Hopefully just not as bad since he will have learned a lot from you.

      Best of luck! It sounds like you are doing a great job with him.

      1. Thanks so much for your advice!
        I guess I am a bit jaded about adopters; not so much because I think they aren’t caring, but I have just met soooo many people (including rescue group people) who don’t understand animal behavior and anthropomorphize too much. But your words have encouraged me. I think I will print up some good articles to give to prospective adopters and hope for the best!

  66. Wow, this is a great little blog!

    I have a 7-month old english Staffy who is very well trained and obedient, but when I leave she plays up and shows server signs of separation anxiety. She became a digger just recently after a 2 week stint sharing with another dog. I don’t let her dig unless on command down by the creek to get rid of all her energy. She gets walked regularly, I have a routine, plenty of toys which i rotate and have various textures. She has a Kong toy which is full of treats. All this along with desensitising her with jingles of keys, putting shoes on and the usual routine.

    She becomes a massive sook when put out, or behind a door as if its a prison! She will bark, yap, howl, whiny, wimper. Every sound possible she will make. I try to reprimand, reward good behaviour (such as her being quiet lying on her bed). Ignore her noise, but she will ruck at the door and has put me in a prior situation where I actually had to move because she was such a pest (which to my request, my housemates did not respect my wishes on training methods, so I am now set back in her development and further attachment from her being with me literally 24/7 until I found a new living arrangement!) I have been getting friends to puppy sit her when it comes to working late nights just so she doesnt show destructive behaviour and annoy the neighbours.

    Typically when i leave, she will sook for 5minutes then stop, as i have been told as she is accompanied by another friend. When alone, she will make noise constantly, resort to chewing, recently digging. I don’t believe in barking collars, don’t ever want to medicate (Although this might HAVE to be on the cards). I understand the psychology behind behaviour modification and I ensure to push the point across the board to everyone on how to be around her. eg. Don’t let her jump on you, don’t make a fuss when you see her, ignore her and act aloof, no sleeping on the bed, disregard the bad behaviour and reinforce the good. All this aside i still have a nutty puppy, a lack in life for myself and end of my teather with patience for her. This was my year to give everything up to give her the time to train and put in now for a forever furrbaby to have a warm safe home but its becoming less of a reality, costly and rather stressful/depressing the see her suffer and become blunt with her.

    WHAT MORE CAN I DO?!?! I feel i have done everything in my power and results a lacking, what brought me to this page was the possibility of investing in a thunder vest/anxiety wrap. Ive read many dog blogs, had everything i needed before I got her, read “What you dog is trying to tell you” or books along those lines, I have a keen passion and drive to look into becoming a trainer myself but feel inadequate at this time due to this current Separation Anxiety issue at present.

    Please Help. I can’t continue moving house and burning bridges because people are not respecting my wishes to train her accordingly because she is in the cute puppy phase. Thanks.

    1. Hi Monique. Gosh, that sounds so hard. I don’t like to recommend medication for a dog either, but I’m thinking it might be best as a temporary help for her while you continue to work on her training. I would talk with the vet about some options and continue with the desensitization to whatever her triggers are (picking up keys, putting on your shoes, etc.).

      Hopefully, with time you will be able to wean her off of the medication.

      Do you leave her in a kennel/crate? Or does she break out of one?

      1. She used to be in the bathroom with a treat and be fine after 10minutes and I would return to her quiet and often asleep. Then as she got older she started to be left outside (with another dog – whom she played with upon hours). She pinned a little as I left but soon was distracted, what was going on little did i know was my housemates at the time, would continuously shout out at her, throw her some left over food (BIG NO NO!!!) and then put her in the bathroom. So its just put a massive fork in the road for her training.

        I just finished a fence yesterday and hope to have that become the new space for her as the outer den and will be extra distant, aloof (as much as it hurts me) and give time to see these things through and will be purchasing a thunder jacket thing today and try to pair an association of positivity with it. Although being in a new property another 2 people are due to move in, one with a shit-su X which upon meeting the owner carries her around :(….

        Im at my wits end and can’t go around telling others what to do, but its impacting my own livelihood, bond with the dog and exhausting which as you would know, when at the end of the teather results are harder to come by.

        I may consult vet over medication although I prefer the option of training, positive reinforcement for results, as meds can be the quick escape but not isolating the issue. “sigh”.

        Ps. Yes she used to break out often even 5minutes after leaving home, i would receive a call, she’s gone on a hunt to find me. often, through the back fence, and appear at the front door. (rather amusing).

        1. Hi Monique,

          Your situation sounds hard; it sounds, too, as though you’ve done plenty of homework on the issue of separation anxiety! I’m certainly not the expert on this site – I came to the site myself as the new owner of an anxious dog more than two years ago – but I thought I could tell you at least how another anxious dog has done over time.

          Shortly after adopting a 5 year-old shih tzu, I hired a trainer from an organization called Barkbusters (I’m in Canada, I don’t know if they’re in the US), to help with my dog’s separation anxiety. I can’t say whether this might have worked or not, since I only used them the one time, but I didn’t agree with their methods which included confining my dog to a covered crate, and throwing their own trademark “metal beanbag” at the crate whenever she whimpered. Who knows, maybe that’s a great technique, but it struck me as counter-intuitive to alarm an already fearful dog.

          Happily, over the last two years, my dog has relaxed significantly such that she can now be left alone. Admittedly, my “technique” was to more-or-less work around her anxiety – I suppose you could call it giving-in! – by having her with me 24/7 whenever possible (she “works” with me at my office), and by using a puppy-sitter the rest of the time. It was a bit pricey, but I was able to afford it, and it was easier than seeing her so distressed. One of the other things I did – recognizing how truly timid and passive she was – was to take her simply everywhere with me that I could – through crowded city streets, into any store that allowed dogs, to dog parks to meet hundreds of other dogs; being a 10-lb shih tzu, of course, made this easier than it might be for you! I have used a Thundershirt, too – I think it does help somewhat, though I think lots of things are additive, and work together.

          What may end up working best for you is time – your pup is still young, and with maturity, I wonder if she might grow into a calmer, more confident dog, all on her own? I didn’t think mine could change much, already being 5, but she did! and at age 7, she’s a much more confident dog than the one I brought home. It turns out that maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks – and if that’s the case, then let’s hope that’s even more likely with your young one! Keep us posted – Lindsay provides so much good advice on this site, which has turned into a supportive and positive community – a rarity online these days!

  67. We have had our boy for 20 months. We got him when he was about 4 weeks due to a rescue situation. We have lived in a house and he only is crated when we leave. We left him out a few times and he he destroyed cardboard boxes. So now he is crated. He sleeps beside our bed uncreated as well. Well we have had to move into an extended stay hotel, been here a month now, due to relocation of my job. My partner is home all day except for 5 hours 2 days a week. The last 3 times we have left him we come back to a blood bath all on his penned. His nose is raw on the top and it looks like he is trying to dig his way out!!! What do I do? I am a first time pet owner and am distraught. He doesn’t get much exercise and I know we need to do better. I read the article about the symptoms of anxiety and he has all but one. Please any help is greatly appreciated!! Is Benadryl safe for him? Thanks all!!!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Have you talked to a vet about medication for the dog? I would consider that in this case. The goal would of course be to slowly wean him off of it as he hopefully gets more comfortable.

      1. No I havent, it just happened last week once when my partner was at school and today. She went to school and he was crated for about 4 hours. When we lived in our house he would be crated for about 6 hours and never had a problem.

  68. I have had my puppy almost two weeks now and she still cries a considerable amount when kenneled, but only for a little while. She’s almost 10 weeks old and was raised on a farm. The mother died in puppy-birth so all 16 pups had to be bottle-fed. I think this might have something to do with her disdain for the kennel and need for attention. Is there anything I can do to help her overcome this anxiety when being kenneled? Is she too young to actually be anxious?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      As hard as it is, I would ignore her crying. Obviously make sure she’s getting out to go potty often enough and make sure she gets plenty of interaction, love and exercise throughout the day. But yes, when she’s crying, I recommend ignoring her.

  69. Recently transferred to a new place, a studio condominium and I brought my dog with me. She previously didn’t have separation anxiety issues until we moved. I walk her for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon, but still she would cry alot when I leave for work, even though I come back 2 hrs later to check on her. I was trying to get her used to the idea of me leaving and then coming back eventually. The guard says my dog is noisy and cries alot when I’m not around. This has been brought to the attention of my landlord and now she wants to “talk”. Please help, should I buy her drugs?

  70. Hello, I think my 15 year old pomeranian chihuahua cross has developed separation anxiety and I’m not sure what to do.
    He’s always been a fantastic little dog, smart, well behaved and great with other dogs and people. He used to have a companion Staffy of the same age who passed away roughly 3 years ago but that didn’t seems to phase him too much, however with the development of some hearing loss he now becomes frantic when he’s left alone.
    When I used to take him to the dog park he would spend the entire time “running the perimeter” and not be overly fused about where I was, he was quite independent. Now however he’ll have a quick run around but always checking back and it seems more anxious about what I’m doing.
    I used to be able to leash him outside a store while I ducked in for a couple of minutes without issue, but now the second I’m out of sight he cries and is inconsolable until I return.
    Finally, he now follows me around at home all the time and when he is put away at night becomes frantic and scratches at the door incessantly. He used to sleep outside without a problem but now it’s as though he can’t be apart from me without freaking out.
    I feel so sorry for him and I’m not entirely sure what brought on the change in behavior or how I can help him.
    I ignore the scratching at the door but it will go on for hours and this behavior has been occurring for months. I also close doors behind me when I’m at home so he can’t follow me all the time but that doesn’t seem to have made much difference.
    If I were to try one of the natural relaxation medications you suggested,would it be best to use it just before I put him away at night? I’ve never had to medicate him in any way before, he’s always been so healthy, the anxiety has really thrown me. I just want to help the little guy.
    Thank you for reading.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Samantha. I’m so sorry to hear of your pup’s anxiety. That is really strange. I wonder if it’s somehow related to his hearing loss. What does his vet think?

      Can you tell if it’s fear of being alone or is it fear of being away from you? For example, if you leave him in another room with a family member or friend, does he still panic looking for you even though he’s with people he knows?

      I’m guessing the natural options will only have a small affect on him but might be worth trying things like a Thundershirt or some of the natural oils like Rescue Remedy. Yes, I would give him these things a half-hour or so before you now the anxiety will be triggered.

      Does he panic if you leave him in a small kennel/crate? Some dogs really settle down in their crates. Do you work during the day and leave him home? Just wondering how much time he’s actually away from you. If you don’t normally leave him every day, maybe make a point to leave for 20 minutes here and there.

      Just brainstorming here.

  71. Thank you so much for responding!
    I think it’s fear of being alone rather than without me, as he’s perfectly happy to substitute my husband for me.
    He is left alone during the day and I image the behavior is the same, he’s ecstatic when we come home.
    I might try crating him, he was crated when he was very young and settled into that ok. If I go ahead and crate him at night, should he also be crated during the day when I’m at work?
    I’ll also try the Rescue Remedy and putting him away while we’re still around, so he knows we’re not disappearing just because he’s going away.
    Thank you again for your response!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I know you might feel bad crating him at night and during the day but if he seems more comfortable that way, that’s what I would do. Hopefully he responds well to the crate. He may or may not.

  72. Hi there,

    We have 10 week old yorkie poo and immediately upon brining her home and playing and placing in her playpen, she cries, yelps, screams and bites the metal playpen. We have gotten her liking her crate for sleep and bedtime(closed.) but if she has any semblance of being not super tired, I can’t even be on the other side of our kitchen island without her screaming for me(in or out of her playpen, let alone her crate) We found out she had Cocchidia 4 days into having her and we are afraid crate training will stress her body more weakening her immune system and ability to get over this parasite. Help! She is much more attached to me than my husband and I work from home. She has zero interest in bully sticks, food, toys, etc when she is upset and trying to get to me. When she is put in her crate any other time than when she is tired, she digs and bits at the metal door of the crate as well.

  73. Thanks for addressing this issue. I realize now that I had just been giving my rescued Heeler too much attention. I can already see an improvement in her behavior since I started pulling back and being a little aloof with her. Before she wouldn’t eat or drink if I left. Also she wouldn’t go outside without me. Today she hung out out in the yard by herself for the first time. She also drank water when I was away at the dentist. Not so much “velcro dog” Thank God!

  74. Hi Lindsay!

    Just wanted to share our experience.

    We have 3 rescue dogs and each one had a unique form of separation anxiety. Our first dog cried dark night of the soul style from the time you left til the time you came home. Second dog stress eliminated when you walked out of his sight. Third dog chewed up pens left out on the coffee table and a $100 Apple Pencil.

  75. I have a 10 year old shih zu. Since my husband passed away in May, 2020, I can’t leave the room without him barking. When I leave the house, I put him with one of my teenage grandsons, who are homeschooling half the time. When I am home and go to the bathroom, sometimes he will come and sniff at the door and just wait there for me. Other times he will sit in the other room and bark. I feel so bad for him, because he has lost his Master and is afraid he will lose me too. Also, he is pretty much deaf, so he can’t hear when I call to him to reassure him that I am close. Any suggestions? I am trying a Thunder shirt, and that sort of works.

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