Prevent separation anxiety in dogs

How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Dogs

We have a tendency to treat our pets like babies, and sometimes that creates separation anxiety in dogs.

Humans have a desire to nurture anything small, cute or helpless.

When a newborn human baby cries, the right thing to do is go to her and offer comfort, food, warmth or whatever she needs, right?

It makes sense that we also want to carry our pets around, keep them near us at all times and go to them when they cry.

We shower them with affection whenever they display signs of neediness. This is a way for us to express love and feel loved back.

But loving a puppy or dog in this way can actually do some harm. It often (not always) results in an anxious, overly dependent, needy and annoying dog.

Puppies and dogs are not babies. They are animals, and they have a right to be treated as animals.

How to prevent separation anxiety in dogs

How to prevent a dog's separation anxiety

This post has been expanded into an ebook filled with tips on how to stop a dog’s separation anxiety. Order it here for $4.

how to end separation anxiety in dogs

What is dog separation anxiety?

Dogs with separation anxiety have not been conditioned to being left alone and therefore go into a frantic state of mind when separated from their owners (even when their owners are simply out of sight).

What is NOT dog separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety in dogs is overly diagnosed.

All dogs need a reasonable amount of time to adjust to a new home. Most dogs will cry in their kennels for a bit for the first couple of nights or weeks, but then they settle in just fine once they adjust to the new routine.

Some dogs are said to have “separation anxiety” when really they just need:

  • exercise
  • rules & training
  • a routine
  • time to adjust

A dog that is given little or no exercise, no mental stimulation (training or puzzle toys) and no time with a “pack” is going to be bored out of his mind.

Of course he’s going to bark, destroy property or rip apart his kennel when left alone. He has nothing else to do!

How do I know if my dog has separation anxiety?

In a past post, I outlined the symptoms of dog separation anxiety and the steps on how to help a dog with separation anxiety. Please check it out HERE.

In this post, I want to focus on preventing separation anxiety.

How do I prevent dog separation anxiety?

Elli the tan fluffy Pomeranian mix I fostered had separation anxiety

1. Do not carry your puppy everywhere.

A lot of small dogs develop separation anxiety because they are carried around all the time. They are literally treated like babies.

They never have to think for themselves. They are not encouraged to explore or be independent. They never learn proper socialization skills because their owners pick them up when the dogs are faced with anything new.

Some of these dogs become insecure, fearful and anxious without their owners in sight. Others become overly possessive of their owners and bite anyone who comes close. This can be prevented by treating the dog like a dog.

2. Teach your puppy to “stay” for long periods of time.

All dogs should be able to lie down and stay for at least a half-hour, especially when there are no distractions such as when you are watching TV or checking email. This helps drain some mental energy, builds confidence and self-control.

Teach your dog to stay on her “place” or “bed” while you leave the room.

If your dog doesn’t have the most reliable down-stay quite yet, keep working on it. Start with just 2 seconds while you’re right next to your dog. Then try 5 seconds and over time you can increase to 10 seconds, 15, 30. Eventually you can take one step away and she should remain staying. Then two steps.

It helps if you can give your dog a special chew toy like a Kong toy or a puzzle toy while she stays on her bed.

Dog puzzle toy

2. Do not pick your puppy up if she cries or jumps on you.

This is the kind of behavior you do not want to reward.

Unless she is truly in danger, completely ignore your dog when she cries or jumps on you for attention. Do not look at her. Do not scold her. Get up and leave the room if you have to. Your attention is a reward, and she only gets it when she is being calm and quiet and respectful.

By the way, I’m not saying it’s wrong to pick up and cuddle your dog! But if you are worried she is becoming too dependent on you or if she’s showing signs of separation anxiety, setting these boundaries will help her gain confidence in the long term.

3. Reward your dog with attention when she is calm and quiet.

A reward can be something as simple as eye contact, a pat on the head or a treat. But this is also a good time to pick your dog up!

In the meantime, work on other ways to create temporary separation:

*If you would like to receive our FREE down-to-earth, weekly dog training tips, Click Here

4. Purposely separate yourself from your puppy.

Ace my black lab mix mutt dog and Elli the Pomeranian mix who I fostered

You and your dog will naturally want to be together, but you can’t be together all the time. It’s important to help puppies learn to feel comfortable being separated from you. Make sure you are creating these scenarios, even when you are home.

Some ideas to try for short periods:

Tether your dog to a chair or table and walk away.

Return only when she is quiet. This could take a few minutes. Heck, it could take an hour! If your puppy won’t stop crying, just wait her out and return when she has been quiet for even 3 seconds.

If she starts celebrating and barking as you approach, turn around and ignore her again until she is quiet. Having your attention is the greatest reward for your dog.

Kong toy

Kennel your dog when you are home.

This could be for 10 minutes or an hour. It’s the same concept as above. Only return when your dog is quiet. Kenneling your dog when you are home will also help her feel more comfortable in her kennel because she won’t associate it with you leaving the house.

Make sure to stock the kennel full of goodies like Kongs filled with frozen peanut butter and treats.

Shut doors behind you.

If you have a pup who follow you into the bathroom, then close the door in her face and make her wait for you. This is an easy way to create temporary separation. If she scratches at the door or cries, do not open the door. Opening the door is too much of a reward.

Create boundaries.

Don’t let your puppy crawl into your lap unless she sits quietly first. Don’t let her sleep in your bed until she is a confident and well-trained dog. Puppies do not belong on the bed.

Prevent separation anxiety in dogs

6. Stick to the same routine before you leave your dog home alone.

Sticking to a routine when you leave will really help your dog feel secure. Before you head to work, maybe you go for a 30-minute walk with your dog, then shower, then eat breakfast, then put her in her kennel and then do your makeup. Dogs really depend on a routine to help them feel secure.

7. Ignore your dog 20 minutes before you leave and 10 minutes after you return.

Making an event out of coming or going confirms that being apart was bad.

Being apart is not bad, it’s normal.

So, completely ignore your dog before you leave the house (just for 10 minutes or so). Don’t talk to her. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t even look at her. Drawn-out goodbyes will only make her feel anxious. She will pick up on your feelings of guilt.

When you return, do the same. Do not look at her or acknowledge her at all (this is hard!). If she is barking in her kennel, that gives you even more reason to ignore her. If you don’t kennel your dog and she greets you by jumping and crying, walk into another room like she doesn’t exist.

Return when she is relaxed. If you know she can’t relax, then simply have a Kong toy filled with peanut butter you can drop on the floor as you walk in the door and into another room, ignoring her.

Return in 5 or 10 minutes. This is the perfect time to take her for a walk.

8. Leave your puppy with a friend.

If you have an understanding friend who loves dogs, sometimes it helps if you can leave your dog with a friend for an hour here and there. This helps the dog associate positive experiences with people other than you.

If you are the primary caretaker of your dog, it can also be helpful to have other family members step up and take over some of the important roles like feeding the dog, training sessions, play or walks. This is especially important if your dog seems overly attached to you vs. other family members or roommates.

Tip: Dogs usually love whoever takes them for walks!

9. Leave your puppy at a dog daycare occasionally.

I’m not saying you have to take your dog to dog daycare every day or every week, but it’s good for dogs to get out and stretch their boundaries every now and then without their owners hovering.

It’s good for the owners, too! It’s so hard for me to leave Ace somewhere overnight, but I know it’s good for me! I’m probably the one with separation anxiety.

10. Make sure all of your dog’s needs are being met.

Dogs that are not given any physical, mental or emotional challenges on a daily basis will likely be very anxious, hyperactive and “crazy” dogs.

Be fair to your dog and provide her with the daily exercise and training she needs. Spend time with her. Stretch her boundaries. And never assume that small dogs or “lazy” breeds do not need exercise. They do.

I fostered a Pomeranian mix named Elli who came to us with severe separation issues.

How did I help Elli?

I took her biking every day to get rid of her pent-up energy. She was about 9 pounds, and she would run 2 miles next to my bike with no problem! She loved it!

For more information, see my post on common sources for dog anxiety and what to do!

What additional tips do you have for preventing separation anxiety in dogs?

Separation anxiety is very time consuming to correct. It is stressful on the owner, the dog and all other family members and pets – and neighbors!

*If you would like to receive our FREE down-to-earth, weekly dog training tips, Click Here

Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

How to prevent separation anxiety in dogs

159 thoughts on “How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Dogs”

  1. I think you have great tips here already.

    One other thing I liked is Amichien Bonding. Kind of base on the dominance idea, but very dog friendly and non-confrontational. We tried it ourselves and it did work for our purpose.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I don’t know what exactly is considered Amichien Bonding and what is not, but I do use a lot of those ideas such as eating before my animals when it’s convenient and walking through doors ahead of them, etc.

  2. Not that it always works but sometimes a buddy is another good thing to get with a dog with slight separation anxiety. One of the reasons we adopted Belle was so DOG would have someone to be with when left alone. However, we learned real quick that getting another dog and then leaving them alone together can cause fights. Thankfully we only had one with an actual bite and have since learned our lesson on routines. Once these problems were addressed and our adjustment period ended (6 months) we have two buddies that love each other and love us! Thanks for the post Lindsey!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, this is an option and sometimes it does help. You have to choose the new dog very carefully. You don’t want to ADD to the problem.

      1. When choosing carefully, what should you be looking for? I have a 5 month old dog who has had separation anxiety since we brought him home at 8 weeks old & nothing is alleviating it. We’ve consulted a dog behaviourist and tried everything, but he’s still beside himself when left alone. He’s ok when my dog sitter leaves him with her dogs so I’m inclined to think a companion dog will help. He’s quite submissive with other dogs, but playful with smaller and younger dogs.

  3. My ex had a dog going through a lot of the issues you have explained. It was his baby, in a sense, and it was a black Labrador.

    The best thing he did which you have listed was not giving her any attention when the dog was bad or begging for attention and rewarded her when all was calm and she was being well-behaved. I also believe that its hard to train a dog when not all their needs are met, so I am glad that you have included that tip as well. It’s amazing the energy that can come out of a dog daily (especially when you have run 2 miles with them and they are still raring to go!).

  4. Well, since I can’t pick up my dog…hahaha

    I’m pretty sure Gus has it pretty bad but we have him with us or at daycare all the time. We don’t mind it at all, in fact – we want him with us because we totally love having him around. I think we are just as bad. When we go play golf or something we can’t wait to get to the daycare to get our big silly. Oh well, it works for us!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Well Gus also came to you with separation anxiety, right? Poor guy. I can’t blame him, considering he lived in, like, five different homes before he found you guys. He’s lucky he has owners who are so loving and understanding. And you are lucky to have him! I’m glad your schedule allows you to work around Gus’s needs. You must have an awesome dog daycare. Which daycare do you use? I wouldn’t mind checking out its web site.

  5. I’ve had dogs all my life and fortunately have never had one that suffered from separation anxiety, so I’ve never worried much about it, but I know it is a huge problem for some. My main piece of advice would be to start leaving your dog/puppy alone as soon as possible so they get used to the concept from the start. I love my dogs, but we all need our space at some point! It’s unhealthy for everybody if you cannot separate. Sometimes I think its actually the owner’s problem. They “cannot separate” from their dog. Great info here for helping those with this problem.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      You know, that’s a very important point – it is often the owner’s problem. I know more than one person who can’t leave his dog alone ever. And at the same time, I can understand where they are coming from because I have a hard time leaving my own dog home! I bring Ace everywhere! But it’s unhealthy for someone to depend on his dog for some kind of emotional comfort at all times. It’s not fair to the dog, either. I’m happy that my dog will follow anyone around who happens to be holding a tennis ball or eating. It means he would get along just fine without me 🙂

  6. I have a GSD rescue dog, that came to me with seperation anxiety issues, the worst being my dog self mutilated when left alone. This dog had been battered and abandonded many times up to 9 months old. The man at the kennels said he put her up for sale as she was breaking down in the kennels.

    My rescue dog will be 2 in a few konths. It’s taken me months to stop her from self mutilating herself (biting/scratching herself until she bleeds). This dog has never been tryly alone. She sleeps in my bedroom on her bed.

    I have often thought about putting her downstairs to sleep alone but I feel it’s the wrong thing to do. Why would I want to reinforce the very problem she came with ‘seperation anxiety’?. Why would I want to make her even more anxious????

  7. Lindsay Stordahl

    Because in reality you can’t be with her all the time.

    If you are fortunate enough to have a schedule where you can have her with you nearly all the time, then maybe you can make it work. But the average person can’t be with her dog every second of the day and night. It’s completely normal to be apart.

  8. Lindsay,

    your article is wonderful. i’m in desperate need to stop my dog’s seperation anxiety fast, especially because management of our apartments has sent us a letter stating she has gotton complaints of constant dog barking. i never even knew my dog, Mia, did this until now. we adopted her from SPCA about a month ago, where she was a very quiet dog, she didn’t even bark at the other dogs being walked by. she’s approx 2 years old. management says if the barking doesn’t stop then we will have to permantely remove her from the premises. when we first adopted her we had a crate for her because we were told she was only partially housetrained, we found out that she is fully housetrained so took the crate back. have no problems with her while we’re home. but after the complaint i set up a camera in the bedroom where she stays while we’re gone to confirm that she does, indeed, bark excessively. the video cut off after 2 hours, and the first half an hour she barked non stop. we bought PetSmart Indoor Bark Control, left for a half an hour today and the bark control that lets out a high pitched 2 second noise when it senses barking, didn’t really seem to bother her. Other than that, thats the only thing she does. No destruction, no pooping or peeing. Just scratches on door a little and barks…not always at the door either. I’m at my wits end, afraid I’ll be forced to get rid of her….

  9. Lindsay Stordahl

    Ugh, I’m so sorry you have to deal with separation anxiety/barking. It’s very stressful!

    Does she bark in the crate?

    Could you take her to dog daycare?

    Is she getting enough exercise?

  10. There are some real good comments on here! This could be devastating for the owners of a new puppy or a rescued dog. I’d have to say this is probably the number 1 or 2 reason for som many dogs out on the street or such a high revolving ratio at the pounds. Personally with a little training and patience this seperation anxiety issue can be solved and it can happen with a little conditioning and training. Good luck to whomever has this issue. Thanks for the blog

  11. Hi there, i found the article interesting but i have already put all of these into force over the past 2 years with my rescue dog and nothing will work, i have bought a spray collar for him, the lot! My neighbours have since got very violent with me and im really not sure what more to do. He follows me everywhere so i make him stay and shut doors behind me, i make him sleep in his crate and he cries all night, hes very jealous of my 6 year old son and will fly over to me if my son comes close to me, i send him away, he has to be crated as if i go out then he pees all over my house including on my bed and chews up wires, he still pees in his crate but at least i can control where to clean on my return. When we walk him he will attack other dogs, and im worried this will lead to getting himself or me & my son into some serious trouble, hes a jack russell terrier cross. He depends on me so much, im not silly ive had dogs all my life and have family with a rescue kennel so i do know what things to, the ignoring them when appropriate, the crating the non sleeping on bed , not making a fuss when i leave or return, i just cant stop him, he is very affectionate lovely dog but he really is a lot of hardwork! My son adores him yet im just not sure which way to turn…

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Have you considered trying an e-collar with him with a remote? Put it on him, leave the room, give him a correction the second he barks. Return the second he is quiet. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’s not an option I like to recommend, and I would only recommend it to someone with experience and understanding of how e-collars can work in certain situations. Worth consideration as you’ve tried everything. I’m sure you’re giving him enough exercise, but if not, make sure you are. Jack Russells can run 10 miles a day, no problem.

    2. Hi, as an Aussie I know Jack Russells are great, active dogs and need a lot of exercise and love playing ball, and plenty of toys. He sound like he is highly anxious and fearful, very sad. He sounds like he needs a professional trainer and a dog door he can go out himself. He will do pees in the house if he can’t get out and hasn’t been trained. He needs help poor little fella. Hope you can get him some. My auntie had one and I loved him but he was active all his life.

  12. Hi Lindsay,

    I’m glad I found your blog. I recently adopted a dog that was hit by a car and then stayed in a vet for a couple of months while he recuperated from a broken pelvis. I was happy to adopt him because he’s such a nice, friendly dog, but I didn’t count on the separation anxiety, and now that I’ve read up on it, it seems like it’s even worse in rescue dogs. If I leave the room or put him outside, he first whines for a few minutes before crying/baying very loudly. He’s a mix, seems like he’s part beagle or some kind of hound dog, and about a year old, the vet says.

    I’ve tried much of what I’ve read here and on other posts, but I’m a little worried about using the shock collar. I have one, but a couple of times when he’s been scratching and crying at the back door, it seems like a shock just gets him more upset. I only began using it because his progress seems to be so slow – one week he’ll cry for a few minutes after I leave for work, and other times he apparently cries for hours. Do you think using a shock collar or a bark collar would make things worse for him? How about a citronella spray collar?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      An e-collar can work. I would only use it if you’ve tried everything else.

      Has the dog been given adequate exercise? I’m talking an hour or two of running per day? Mental challenges like obedience training? Things to do when you leave like Kongs and interactive toys? Have you had the dog for more than two weeks or so? Almost all dogs will have an adjustment period.

      If you do use an e-collar, I recommend one with a remote so that you can control the timing and intensity of the correction. And make sure you use positive reinforcement as well. Give a correction for crying, followed by you returning to him when he’s quiet.

      A lot of dog trainers will say that the e-collar will make the dog even more anxious. I disagree. Sometimes the dog needs an outside pressure in order to learn how to change her behavior, feel better and develop self-control. Here is a post I wrote on shock collars I think you may find helpful:

      And just in case you didn’t see it, here’s another post I wrote on dog separation anxiety:

      Good luck! I truly understand how frustrating it can be! Just be patient and understanding. The dog has been through a lot.

      1. Thanks! I’ve had Butler for about a month full-time now. Before that, I kept him for a few weekends just to get him out of the kennel at the vet for a change. His pelvis was broken in two places and the vet said that keeping him confined so he couldn’t get too active was the best thing to do while he healed. Now that he’s at my place, he has the run of most of the house, and I put him outside in my large, fenced-in backyard for the day, where he’s got several toys and a Kong stuffed with treats and peanut butter. He doesn’t get as much running as you recommend, but that’s because he’s still recuperating. Our 30 minute walk around the neighborhood last night tired him out and he was noticeably favoring his leg again.

        I’m just worried because he seems to be regressing a bit. Today and yesterday he refused to go outside when I was getting ready for work in the morning, but by the time I left I could see him working on his Kong. Like I said, I’m just concerned because the training we’ve done (much like what you’ve recommended in your links) doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of pay off so far. We’ll keep at it though, and thanks again!

          1. Terrible. We thought he would do great, because he didn’t have any problems at the vet with being in a kennel. The first time I left him in there for an extended period of time, about two hours, I came home to find that he’d been so panicked when I left that he had chewed and pulled so much on the kennel (it’s metal) that I had to bend it back into shape before I could open the door. Afterwards he would tremble all over if I tried to put him back in, so I stopped and began to re-introduce it to him slowly by putting his food and treats in there along with his bed and blankets. He goes in willingly now, but he won’t make it more than a minute or two before he starts crying and pawing at the door again. I keep trying baby steps though. A few minutes here, a few minutes there. The problem is that if he doesn’t want to go in, I don’t want to force him in there and end up taking two steps back from where we are now.

          2. Lindsay Stordahl

            That’s hard. Sorry to hear that. Just be patient. Sometimes these things take a few months or longer, unfortunately.

  13. Thanks for your article – it will be really helpful when I get my new puppy 🙂
    I would love some more advice though from whoever could give it to me:
    How long does it take to get a puppy or young dog used to being away from their owner for a few hours or more? I am getting a puppy and I would like to know how long I need to prepare her for my absence a few hours each morning (and some afternoons but never without lunchtime visits). Is is a few weeks or months (I could do either)? Thanks.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Depends on the dog. Really young puppies shouldn’t be left for more than 2-3 hours anyway because they can’t hold it that long. But the adjustment period for being left alone is different for every dog. Some puppies are fine right away with no issues. Others take months to feel OK being alone. If you are consistent and start leaving your puppy right away on a routine, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. The main thing is to ignore any barking/crying. You want the puppy to learn that acting this way will not get him what he wants. It also helps if you start leaving the pup alone for a few minutes right away when you bring him home. Don’t let him be with you 24/7 or you will be creating a pup with attachment issues.

  14. I just adopted a six month old puppy and he already has MAJOR anxiety even though I’ve only had him a day and a half. I can’t even leave the room he gets so upset. I left him alone with my other dog for about two hours today and he had destroyed the door frame around the door we leave thru and ripped up all the carpet in front of the door! He also attacks my other dog if I try and show him any attention or if he has a toy new dog will attack him. He’s gouged his ear pretty good and is limping! I need help! I’m afraid to go to work come Tuesday!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Unfortunately there is no easy fix for this. You are going to need a lot of patience. You will also want to think seriously about whether or not you can deal with separation anxiety and keep this dog. I’m not sure what your living situation is as far as an apartment or a house, close neighbors, etc.

      You will definitely want to put him in a crate. He will probably try to break out of it and might succeed. Give him tons of exercise, like an hour of running in the morning and at night. Leave a radio on. Give him lots of puzzle-type toys where he has to work to get treats out. Do not make a big deal about coming and going.

      You could also consider taking the dog to dog daycare at least a few times during the week to help eliminate some stress for you and your dogs! That way you can go to work without worrying all day about what’s being destroyed.

      As far as your dogs fighting, you have to make sure you decide when the dogs can approach you, when they can get attention, who can play with toys when, and so on. Here are some tips for working through some of these issues:

      Since you have problems beyond the separation anxiety, I highly recommend you contact a trainer in your area.

      Thank you for your comment. Let me know if you have any other specific questions. Best of luck to you!

    2. Another thing you need to keep in mind is that you JUST got this dog. Every dog needs time to adjust to a totally new environment. The first week I had my dog, he barely knew what was going on, let alone any semblance of structure. He would bark if I left the room. Three months later, he is very well-adjusted.
      I would highly recommend keeping a rigid schedule, but also know that he will adjust over time. You do want to work with negative behaviors from the start to show him aggression and barking are NOT ok, but also try to remember that he is going through a LOT right now and WILL adjust.
      Good luck!

  15. What a great and in-depth article you’ve written! So many owners actually bring this problem on themselves without even realizing it, by babying the dog and making a big deal out of the separation. Our cockapoo hated it when we’d leave when he was still a puppy, and it was really because we didn’t have a lot of experience with dogs and got ourselves worked up about leaving him alone…naturally he sensed it and got worked up, too. The tip on ignoring the dog for a while before you leave is great, we used that method with a lot of success, along with some of the other ideas you mentioned. Crate/kennel training also did wonders for his behavior. Thanks for the hard work, great blog.

  16. People feel so guilty and stressed about leaving their dogs home alone – no wonder so many dogs have separation issues!

    If I put Ace in his kennel and feel sorry for him, of course he’s going to whine. But if I put him in there thinking how lucky he is to have such a good home, then he will go right to sleep. He truly gives me whatever behavior I give him.

    1. We have a new ten week old puppy. She is a terrier shitzu cross. We have a crate which she despises, and I guess we’re nor being consistent enough with putting her in there. I was putting her in when going out for an hour and she barked non stop, so I left her in the kitchen with the door of the crate open She still pooped in my kitchen and was possessed when we got back. I don’t know very much about dogs unfortunately, I feel a little out of my depth. When we returned yesterday she was very nippy and kept trying to nip my kids especially, how do I deal with that when we return? Thanks

      1. Also just to add, she sleeps very peacefully at night on her bed in the living room, usually looks for bathroom around 6:30

  17. We just got a Newfoundland/Great Pyrenees puppy named Bernie. We have had him one week and he is currently 9 weeks old. He has learned to go the door to be let outside to go to the bathroom.

    My concern with Bernie is that when he is placed in his crate he cries and barks for a good 20 minutes. We let him out every 2-1/2 hours during the night to go outside to use the bathroom and every time he is placed back in his crate he cries/barks for 20 minutes.

    Your article has some good advice. I’m hoping to implement some ideas with Bernie. But do you have any idea how long this crying will last? Will a bark collar calm him down?

    I’m new to the puppy world and only want what is best for Bernie 🙂

    1. 20 minutes is no big deal. Your best bed is to ignore him 100 percent when he cries. You have only had him a week so he is just getting used to the routine. Don’t give him attention now at all for crying or he will learn that crying gets him attention. You don’t need a bark collar at this point. That barking is normal and it should go away in a week or so.

      I would also let him out every 3.5 or four hours pretty soon rather than every 2.5 hours. He should be able to hold it that long.

  18. Hi.
    i brought my puppy home about a mouth ago from my parents. The dogs there ran at the opportunuty to reproduce before getting fixed and had a litter of 6. My boyfriend and I kept one, Paige. When we brought her home, it took her some getting used to, but she adapted very quickly. She’s 3 months now and all in all probably the most amaxing and intelligent dog I’ve ever had. The problem is when we got her, I wasn’t working at the time, so I assume she got overly used to having me at home, now when I leave the house to go to work she goes nuts. Scratching at the door, at the floor, crying and whinning. She NEVER barks however. But she will stay planted there until I get home. Ny biyfriend comes home before me, so she will calm down and stop, but as soon as she hears the door when I come in she goes at it again until I’m in plain site. I always leave all her toys for her to play with, and we have a kitten, Sony, who is 9 months that she always lived to play with (until the house is empty). I take her for contstant 30-45 minute walks, and take her to the park as often as possible to run around, if not we’ll play with her out back. She’s used to having rooms seperate us, and she’s okay with it, it is just really wben I leave the house, and we have neighbours who live upstairs from us who have complained about her for the mere 2 days that I have been gone so far, and our landlord has said that if it doesn’t stop she’ll have to go. I just don’t know what I can do to get her out of being scared to be alone withiut leaving her alone, but as soon as I do and she starts we’re getting a complaint. It’s hard to be able to train her withiut actually being able to. Any suggestions? I’m in such a rut and so broken up over it.

  19. Unfortunately there is no quick fix, so I highly recommend you apologize to your neighbors and explain to them you are working on the issue. Send them a thank you card or some cookies if that will help.

    You are going to have to get your dog to accept being away from you. So even when you are home with her, do not allow her to obsess over you at all times. Completely ignore her when you come home for at least 20 minutes, until she is calm. In general, only give her attention when she is calm. And by attention, I mean even just looking at her.

    When you are home, purposely create some separation by leaving her in different rooms and returning to her when she is calm and quiet. Don’t allow her to follow you everywhere like into the bathroom. I recommend you do not let her sleep in your bed for now.

    Do all the usual recommended ideas such as leave her with three or four Kong toys filled with peanut butter and dog treats and frozen overnight to make them last longer. Leave a radio on. Get a Thundershirt to possibly help her feel calmer. Increase her exercise. I always suggest getting a kennel and training the dog to use that. In her case, this might increase her anxiety but it would be worth crying. If dog’s can accept being in a crate, they can usually remain in a calm state of mind and take a nap or chew on a bone until their owners return. It becomes their safe, calming place.

    You could also try taking her to a dog daycare or hiring a dog walker.

  20. I moved about 3 months ago and my dog was great! Loved the house and didn’t have any problems. Within the past 3 weeks or so, he barks and cried when we leave the house and if we are home and not in the same room as him or giving him full attention he has accidents, cries and physically shakes. The worst time is in the morning when my husband leaves for work and I am still in bed. Other time this occurs is when we either have guests over or just are not paying full attention to him.

    I have been thinking about starting from scratch and crating him but I am not sure if that will help the problem.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yeah I think that is a good idea. Start from scratch as though he is a new dog you just adopted. A crate might help him feel more secure in his new environment where he is not quite sure what to do. I’m guessing he felt some anxiety this whole time after you moved but it started out small and no one really noticed it.

  21. I adopted a Shih Tzu just a week and a half ago. He is an excellent dog, very lovable and calm. He wants to be by my side most of the time because he didn’t get any love at his former home. He was allowed to run loose in the streets and as a result, he was taken from the owners. I am retired, but I still have commitments and have to leave the house on occasion. When I do, he cries from the minute I leave until I come home. He was neutered this week and has the cone-collar on. It is attached to his collar. While I was out last night for 3 hrs., he cried and barked the entire time and managed to get that cone-collar off his head. I was mortified because it also meant that he was licking at his wound. He scratches on the door. I know I’ve had him just a very short time, but it makes me afraid to leave him. I live in an apartment and I close off the bathroom and bedroom; leaving him access to the living room and kitchen. I take everything up that he might get into, but he stays right at the door the entire time. This article has been helpful and I will definitely try the suggestions. I’m just so frustrated. I’m not hesitant to be away from him, but fearful of what he’ll do while I’m gone and also afraid of the disturbance he’ll create for my neighbors. I confess that I have let him up on the couch next to me and also on the bed. I always said I’d never let the dog on the bed, but I did give in because he’s so darned cute and lovable. I think I’m living to regret that already because he’s too close to me.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      The first thing that caught my attention was that you said he wants to be by your side at all times because he “didn’t get any love at his former home.” I know you love and feel sorry for this dog, but one thing you can do to help him is to not feel sorry for him. He is no longer in trouble. He is a very lucky and loved little dog. So make sure to create some boundaries between you two every day even when you are home. Make him stay in another room for an hour or so even while you are home. Make him sleep in a kennel or on the floor or in another room. Make him sit on the floor while you are on the couch. Do this for at least the first few months and you will help him build his confidence. Do not give him attention if he is naturally a “whiny” dog when you are home. Ignore all crying.

      I know it’s hard and frustrating! I hope some of these ideas help!

  22. How do you combine house training – where you need to keep your dog near you all the time when she’s not in the crate to make sure she’s not relieving herself – with training for separation anxiety – where you’re supposed to leave her alone for periods of time? These seem at odds with each other.

    I suppose I could do the separation anxiety training in the crate – but that starts to feel like every minute she’s in the house, she’s in the crate, which seems unhealthy. That means during the day she’s alone in the crate, then back in the crate for separation anxiety training in the evening when I’m home, and then she also happily sleeps in the crate in my room at night….so it just seems like too much time in there to be healthy.


    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yeah, they are at odds with each other. It can be hard. Does your dog actually have separation anxiety? Or are you just trying to prevent it?

      I run into this problem all the time when I foster dogs. Sometimes they come straight from the pound and they have a lot of pent-up anxiety and I don’t know if they are fully housetrained. I never give these dogs full freedom for the first few days. The good thing is you can decrease their dependence on you even when you are in the same room. I will sometimes put their leash under a chair leg or table leg so they can’t be right next to me while we are in the same room. Or, I will simply ignore the dog while it’s loose in my office. No eye contact, no petting, etc. Or I don’t let the dog sit in my lap or on the furniture while we are watching TV. It’s little things like that. As far as the kennel goes, I get what you are saying. I hate to have the dog in their for so many hours as well. Think of it as a temporary thing, and get out for as many walks and play sessions outside as you can fit into your schedule. If it’s a possibility, you could take the dog to daycare even once a week just for some extra interaction, socialization and exercise. I wouldn’t make it a daily thing because the dog needs to get used to your routine. But it can be a nice break once a week.

  23. Hey Lindsay,
    Love what you said about crate training! One of my problems is that I can’t seem to find any treat that my dog will obsessively work on for more than 5 minutes or so. I’ve done bully sticks, kongs, elk antlers, bones soaked in chicken broth and stuffed with goodies, etc. I have filled the kong with everything from peanut butter (hates it), to his FAVORITE treats, to wet dog food. I’ve had the most success with the last one, but once he has licked enough out that he can’t easily reach anymore, he’s done.
    I really would love to find that one chew that he will stick with when I’m gone. It’s hard enough to get him to chew on anything once I’m gone since he gets all worked up with anxiety that he doesn’t think about anything else.
    We’re working on the slow separation process, but I just know it would be a lot easier on him if he could work on something with his mouth while I’m gone. Do you have any other suggestions? Raw hide is definitely not an option.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      What about making the Kong’s easier to get the food out at first so he is successful? Fill them with a bunch of small treats so they fall out pretty easily. I tried to think of some other chews/treats he might like but if he turned up all the others, I am not sure what he would like. This sounds gross, but what about a bit of that spray cheese in a Kong? EZ cheese or whatever it’s called.

      1. I have tried putting those small, jerky-like Buddy Biscuits in the kong – they’re itty bitty pieces that would fall out if tipped. I came back less than an hour later to find him barking stressfully and not having touched the kong. 🙁 I have tried soaking a tripe stick (which he typically loves if I’m in the room) in chicken broth to make it extra stinky and appetizing, but no luck. He won’t go for ANYTHING long-lasting when left alone. :/

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Gosh. I’m not sure what could work! Some of the dogs I’ve fostered wouldn’t touch food when I was gone, either. It didn’t matter how tempting the food was.

  24. Hi Lindsay
    2 days ago we got a Shar Pei puppy she is 10 weeks old and unfortunatley the previous owners did not get her vaccinations doen at 8weeks, so she is a little behind on her immunisation. Therefore, the vet recommended we do not take her for walks untill she has them completed in 3 weeks time.
    She also follows me wherever i go, shes my shadow. I let her only on the sofa when she is good and calm and have started to leave her on her own in the kitchen while im there and only go in when she is calm and not whinging. We do go out and leave her again in the kitchen with bed and toys and she does cry & bark (well tries to bark).
    Because we cant walk outside for another 3 weeks im worried she is going to get bored, we do take her in the garden as we trying to toilet train, but am i doing all I can?

  25. Lindsay Stordahl

    Well seeing as you’ve only had the pup for about three days, I would just give her some time to adjust. Stick to a strict routine. Most puppies will cry for the first night or two. This doesn’t mean your pup has serious anxiety.

    Can you walk with her around your own yard where she won’t be around other dogs? And how about playing some tug of war games with her? That could help burn some energy and take care of some stress. It’s also never too late to practice obedience – sit, stay, come – in short sessions. Also practice good leash manners by walking her around your house on a leash.

  26. Hi Lindsay.
    I have a 9 year old chihuahua called Mouse. She has been with me since I was 18. She has traveled the world with me and recently moved with my partner and I to Sydney. She has always had anxiety ever since I can remember and I don’t think it’s separation it’s more night time, loud noises., storms and rain. If there is a storm that’s it there’s no sleep for our house that night. She shivers uncontrollably, tries to wedge herself in small spaces, scratches at the shower door/front door any door that’s close, she pants, has her tail between her legs, ears high and she is just not a happy little girl. It kills me to see her like this and I’ve tried herbal remedies, turning up the TV, yawning (I heard that works), I’ve tried it all. If we have one of these “panic attacks” it usually lasts a few nights and then she comes right again. Please help as the vets I have been to have just suggested medication and it’s such a horrible thing to go through. I just know she’s not having the best life she can living with this 🙁

  27. Hi Lindsey,
    Your article has really helped me understand more. I think I have more separation anxiety then my dog does. I have a 5 month old Basset Hound and I have a place for him in the basement to sleep or hang out and play. He always whines and barks when I leave but after a couple of minutes he stops. I usually feel horrible for leaving him alone so I go get him and play with him. I know its bad because I’m spoiling him but I feel horrible for leaving him alone. So I try to be with him the most as possible. So I guess my question is how many times should I leave him alone? The majority of the day? I just dont want him to be lonely but i still want my alone time. Hes well fed, I walk him 3 times a day, and he has enough toys to keep him busy. So what should I do? Please help.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl


      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad the post has helped you and your dog. I know what you mean. I totally have a bit of separation anxiety when I’m away from my dog, too.

      When you do leave your dog, try not to feel sorry for him. Think about what a lucky dog he is to live with you in a nice place. He gets to stay at home with nice toys and a climate-controlled setting while you have to run around and do errands, go to work or school or whatever it is that you do. Think positively, and it will really help him.

      As far as how much time your dog is alone, do what works for your schedule. Many dogs stay home for 8 hours per day while their owners go to work, and they are just fine. Ideally, you should be home at least every five hours to let your dog out. And I say, spend as much time with him as you can. Spend as much time with him as you’d like. But also make sure you are still able to maintain a life without your dog. Leaving him home alone for at least an hour every day will be healthy for him. And also leave him in the basement alone for a half-hour or so even while you are home.

  28. This blog is really helpful, we recently took on an 8 month old mini dachshund that was left alone in his crate for 8 hours a day. We’ve only had him 10 days and I know we need to be patient with his learning to feel secure. The first three nights he barked for an hour before sleep. We decided we didn’t mind him sleeping in our room and when we moved him into our room he snored away all night.
    We live in an apartment building and our neighbours are friendly – we’ve told them about the new pet and hopefully they will be patient. We’re actually not supposed to have pets so don’t want any problems.
    We re sorting doggie day care but of course there will be other times when we want to go out without him so really need to get him used to be alone. Today we spent 5 minutes outside and he barked and barked. I guess tomorrow we keep at the 5 minutes. He is able to be in a different room to us in the house so it could all be settling into the new home. Wish I could see in the future to the day he can stay home without barking.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It’s hard, I know. Keep being patient. Buy your neighbors a small gift for their patience, too, if you think that would help. Keep leaving for short periods and returning the second he is quiet. If you notice he gets anxious because of a certain “trigger” like you picking up your keys, then try to desensitize him to that action by picking up your keys 20 times per day when you are NOT going to leave and give him a treat instead. If it’s the kennel he has an issue with, keep putting him in there for short periods (a few seconds, even) and return to him before he has a chance to cry and bark. Keep it positive. Keep giving him his favorite goodies in the kennel.

      1. He is totally fine all other times of the day and is able to spent time on his own in other areas of the house. So I think he is just settling with us. We’ve done a few 1 minute spurts today, what I’m unsure of is do we wait until there is a 1 second lull in the bark and the return? Do we keep it at 1 minute spurts until he does not bark for that 1 minute? Thanks for your help

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          I would try leaving for literally only about three seconds and then return to him before he has a chance to start crying. Do that several times in a day. Then increase to 20 seconds and so on. I realize this is not always realistic because, hello, sometimes you have to leave your dog alone for hours. So, when you do have to leave to run errands or whatever, try not to let him out until he is quiet. The longer he is quiet, the better, but if he is really worked up and anxious, you might have to go to him when there is just a two-second spurt of quiet.

          I’m assuming you have some Kong-type toys you can give him filled with peanut butter or other tasty things? That helps for a lot of dogs.

          1. Just ordered a kong on amazon but have been hiding two treats in his blanket. We’re actually not even doing errands as worried about the barking with neighbours. We’ve done two very quick spurts today so will just keep at it until we see an improvement. I know every dog is different and we know we’re in for a hard slog but what sort of time frame are we looking at on average for dogs to adapt? Thanks again for help/ support

          2. Lindsay Stordahl

            Every dog is different. Most dogs need a good two weeks to adapt. And then if they truly have separation anxiety it can take several weeks or months. It is a good sign that your dog is able to be separated from you by being in a different room when you are home. Keep looking for little ways to create minor separation even while you are home such as putting him in another room for a few minutes or tying his leash to a chair a few feet away from you while you watch TV so he’s not always right next to you and so on. Keep rewarding any quiet behavior and ignoring any whining/barking.

          3. Hi Lindsay, day three of separation training and we’ve seen no improvement. He even ignored his big bone treat we left today (kong should arrive next week) We are only doing this once a day, aftermour lunchtime walk. would you suggest more often? I’m not sure if the dog is finding it harder as my partner and I are training him together as we’re off work together for the holidays. We know this will be a long road, he starts doggie day care three times a week next week and obedience classes next sunday so hope these distractions will make it a bit easier. Any advice on how many times we should do this on his non doggie day care days would be appreciated. At the moment he is quiet for 30 second – 2 minutes after we leave if busy with treats. When we do the training we go,outside for a minute, come back in for a minute, out again. Maybe this is wrong and we should just do ignore 20 minutes, leave for 1 minute, then ignore for 10 minutes. Thanks again for your help, it is REALLY appreciated.

  29. We have adopted a dog 2 weeks ago and noticed our dog was starting to get very clinging. We followed the advice from your post and ignored him 20 minutes before we left and 20 minutes after we came back. My girlfriend also limited the amount of overall attention and it has helped a lot.

  30. Lindsay Stordahl


    These things can take weeks. Just be consistent and patient. I know it’s very hard to deal with. Try something more tempting than the bone like peanut butter. I would keep doing what you are doing but do this a few times per day rather than just one training session.

    During each session I would leave for a few seconds and then return before the crying starts. Open the crate door when you return. Then put him back in his crate, leave again and return before the crying starts. Let him out of the crate again. Do this three or four times. Repeat the whole process at least twice per day.

    1. We are still persisting with this 2 minutes and not much improvement at all.

      We videotaped him today and he doesn’t even look at his tasty treats but paces up and down and barks and barks. Hope the Kong from Amazon arrives soon!

      He started doggie day care this week which he loved and obsedience classes start on Sunday. I cant wait for the weekend to spend time with the little guy and practicing what we learn in class and take him on a long long walk.

      We will keep persisting

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        It’s common for dogs with separation anxiety to completely ignore their favorite treats. Patience is going to be key for you. Building his confidence through obedience should help.

        1. The Kong seems to be working…Murphy is up to 3 minutes on his own without barking now! Only 57 more minutes to go. Feels good to be seeing progress. Thanks again for your help and support Lindsay.

          1. Well, yesterday Murphy managed 5 minutes with no barking, we were away for 7 minutes and waited until the crying had stopped a second before returning. It felt so good! We decided to freeze the kong so it would take him longer today, but he only managed 4 minutes. We still increased our time outside by a minute. I think he may have been frustrated he couldn’t get at the treats easier and I wonder if he missed the anticipation of the kong. He gets so excited usually when he hears me preparing it, rustling the chewy treat bag, seeing the peanut butter etc etc. I’m trying not to be disheartened. We will continue! Good signs were that in obedience class today, when the teacher held him and we walked around the circle he didn’t bat an eyelid. He seems fine as long as a human is around. Tomorrow at doggie day care he will have an hour / hour and a half alone with the daycarers dog. Would love to know how he handles that.

  31. Fern Broadhurst

    Hello, Im having a few problems with my black labrador pup, hes almost 1 now, this month. we spent alot of time training him and potty training, and he has come along heaps and bounds, however he has started to develope certain tendencies that are causing arguements with family living in the house.
    When he is left alone in the kitchen he barks and pines for about 5 minutes, which is fine because he settles down rather quick. but when we come back into the room he destroys anything, for example in 7 months hes ripped apart and eaten 7 beds. these beds cost money so that causes arguments straight away. however when we try and tell him off for chewing he stops while we are there. we baught him a brand new bed but we had to keep it in the livingroom instead of the kitchen where he sleeps, the bed was in there for 3 weeks, and he was really great and didnt bite it or even bother with it, but then we moved it into the kitchen and he seemed okey, wasnt paying it any attention. we left him alone later that day for 1 hour, we came back into the room to find have the bed gone, eaten, digested. he does this with ever bed. even if we catch him and take the bed away, as soon as it comes back and we arent there (during the night) its gone by morning. i cant understand why he eats the bed when he has plenty of chew toys and even a bone for him to chomp on.
    another issue is that now he stops eating when we leave the room, this has only just started in the past few weeks. we give him his meal and we make him sit and wait untill we have put it on the floor and then i open the door for him to go out and do his business if he needs too. but as soon as i leave the room and shut the door so he can only stay in the kitchen and eat or go outside to the toilet. he stops eating and just sits and waits. this is alittle fustrating because i dont want him to not eat is only meal a day. so i tried to stay in the room but i didnt want to mother him and him think i would be there everytime he ate, any advice for that?
    the last thing is the toilet. he now doesnt go into the backgarden, AT ALL he wont go outside in the rain which is alittel fustrating because at 5in the morning when i wake up for college and i go down to say hello and let him out while i eat my breakfast, he wont go out for a toilet break, he holds it all day, even when the door is open, as soon as the door is shut and i leave the room (even) to go to the bathroom, he then lets it go everywhere, even the poo’s. which then also causes arguements with family. he goes out at least 2 times a day for a walk around the block, about 10-20 minutes. and then at the weekend we almost always go for a huge walk in the woods for 2 hours. so i just find it difficult to know what im doing wrong. or how i can help him.
    so if you have any idea i would be eternally grateful, and im sure my family would too.
    awaiting your reply

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh the bed issue – Beds are more fun to chew up than toys. Stop giving him beds for now. Maybe in a year when he is more mature he won’t tear apart his beds. For now, he can sleep on the floor or give him some old towels and blankets.

      On eating – Dogs will eat when they are hungry so don’t worry so much about that. He won’t starve himself. I see your point of not wanting him to think he can only eat while you are there. You can leave his food out for 10 minutes while you are getting ready to leave for school or work and then put the food away until his second meal time in the evening. Just give him 10 minutes at that time as well. If he doesn’t eat, no big deal. Put the food away. He might not eat for a few days but he will eat when he is hungry. This routine will help him get on a schedule.

      For potty training, go back to the basics. Take him out on a leash as often as you can, and reward him with his favorite treats for going to the bathroom outside.

    1. We had some digression this week, only 4 minutes. I know it’s a problem we only practise this on the weekends but he had day care in the week. I will have to start doing this throughout the week as well I think. I guess it is not really fair to expect him to grow and develop this if he only gets two opportunities each week. Lindsay, what are your thoughts on SA being linked to the time the dog spends with you? In the evenings we do have the dog on the sofa with us and he gets cuddles in bed in the morning and evening. We are getting rid of his crate this week. The dog is perfect apart from the SA. Just feeling a little disheartened!

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        I think you have to find the healthy balance between spending enough quality time with your dog (cuddling/training/exercising) and decreasing their dependence on you.

  32. I have a 7 year old chihuahua and he was kenneled until he was 4 and now I’m kenneling him again due to new living situation. He loved his kennel as a puppy and would jump in there in anticipation when my shoes went on! Now, he rubs his nose on the bed, blanket, or whatever object is in there and is covered in blood!! I don’t know what to do so I’m just sticking with with putting him in there everyday hoping he’ll stop but he’s not slowing down. Please please, any advice? Am I doing the right thing?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Do you have the option of putting him in a smaller room like a bathroom or not really? I would stick with the kennel unless he is severely hurting himself. Try to keep it stocked with all kinds of puzzle-type toys and other goodies to keep him distracted. Increase his exercise, too, so he will be tired in the kennel.

      1. No a smaller room isn’t an option for us and maybe a bigger kennel will help so I can fit more toys in there but he doesn’t really take to toys. He gets better one day and then the next he does it again and I don’t think the damage he is doing to himself is something to worry about anymore on a safety stand point because the area isn’t growing it’s just the top of his nose now and I can see new hair growth. We really appreciate your website here you have really put our minds at ease.

  33. I have a 9 week old boxer puppy that we brought home 4 days ago. So far we have had two good nights and one really bad one. We ignored his crying last night and he seemed to manage okay.

    My bigger worry is during the day. I have to go back to work next week. I’ve been regularly taking him downstairs and locking him in the laundry with the door open to outside (this is what we’ll do when I go back to work). So far I’ve pushed the time alone for him out to 2.5 hours. He’s been asleep for the first 15, woken up and cried for 45, settled for 30, then cried again for the last hour. He’s then started to get himself quite worked up so I’ve gone to get him- I don’t want him to associate the laundry as a “bad place”. I’m careful to wait until he’s quiet until I let him out though.

    I also spend other time down there with him – either playing or not paying attention to him, doing the washing etc.

    I’ve filled the garden and the laundry up with heaps of toys – ones that he’ll happily entertain himself with when we’re nearby but just isn’t interested in when he’s by himself (I’ve been watching him – very quietly – from the balcony).

    At the moment though, I just can’t imagine being able to leave him for the whole day while I’m at work! Am I being too lenient, or expecting too much? When can i expect him to lose the whining? Any other hints and tips?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Keep leaving him alone for short periods and going to him when he’s quiet like you are doing. I would rotate which toys you give him when he’s alone. If he only has certain toys out, then the “new” ones will seem more valuable to him. They will be more interesting. Find some puzzle-type, treat-dispensing toys or other chews that he absolutely loves.

      A whole day would be a long time for him to be alone. Will you be able to return during your lunch break? Still, I don’t think you are being too lenient. He has to slowly get used to being alone.

      1. Hi Lindsay,

        Thanks for your great advice. Just thought I’d let you know that he soon settled himself down and learnt to play by himself. It probably took him a couple of weeks to settle down but I just wanted to give everyone hope that patience and persistence pays off!

  34. Hi! You have so many great tips! My fiance and I have just started working with our German Shepherd who is overly dependent on us. We have started ignoring him when he gets too excited, we practice leaving him alone for shorter periods of time, and only reward him once he is calm. We were wondering if making him sleep in a different room would help him feel more independent or will it do more harm to switch up his routine at this point? He has slept in our bedroom for the past 2 1/2 years that we have had him. Is there a gradual way to switch his sleeping routine? We really want him to feel comfortable by himself, but we want to do it without making the situation worse. We would really appreciate any suggestions! Thank you!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      You could try having him sleep in another room. Does he sleep in your bed or does he sleep in your room on a dog bed or in a kennel? If he’s sleeping in your bed, I would start by moving him to the floor. Then you could try having him sleep in the hall outside your door or in a bedroom close by.

      If he makes a big fuss out of being away from you at night, you may want to put him in a kennel as far away from your bedroom as possible. And if he whines or barks so much that you can’t sleep, then maybe just let him sleep with you. It’s not worth losing sleep over. Just work on lessening his dependence on you during the day.

      Is he able to lie down and stay for up to a half-hour at home while you go about the house doing other things? That would be one goal to shoot for. Start with a few seconds of course, and slowly progress from there.

  35. I’m feeling guilty as we’ve stopped doing the kong separation training- and just decided to ‘get on with it’ our dog has day care in the week when we work and on the weekend we are with him all the time anyway. Of course there will be times when he can’t come with us, but not much arises like this. I think he is more attached to my partner as sometimes when she leaves he let’s out a couple of barks but settles easily. They spend the most time together. This week our day care plans fell through, and we did split shifts caring for him, with a period in the middle of the day when he was alone. My partner came home and he wasn’t barking- it had been about 20 minutes!! And when she came back, she sat downstairs and he was still busy upstairs with the kong. Result! So this is why we decided to just forget the training. I think we were always anxious when preparing the kong and the two of us busy acting as if all was fine and standing outside. He has a new toy where you can give him all his dinner and he has to tap it, which he loves. So think this week we will fill that before his dinner and pop out for an hour. We do need a life! Are we mad not to continue with the kong practise??

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It sounds like he is doing much better. I would go ahead and use that other toy you were talking about. I understand what you mean about feeling anxious when you are preparing the Kong. I’m glad the daycare option works well for your schedules and that he’s not alone too often. I think you are doing all the right things.

  36. I wonder if you could help me. Everytime I drop anything on the floor, my chihuahua feels the need to take it and it is now his. If I go to pick it up, he tries to bite me. I’m also unable to leave the house. He sits by the door and does not let anybody out. He continously barks at me and tries to run out the door if I open it. I feel like a prisoner in my own home! Even when I am just watching the tele or doing the washing up, he will sit on the floor in front of me and just bark at me. I have tried turning my back on him and ignoring him but it doesn’t work. It has gone on for at least 20 minutes before, and yet he still continues to bark at me. I don’t know what to do.

    1. I know this is two yrs old so I hope you have figured out that your dog needs to be played with and taken for walks. Dogs can sense your feelings, and by that I truly mean they are definitely mind readers. My dog has taught me more in the 2 and half years I’ve had him then all the info I’ve ever learned in my 42 yrs of life about dogs. Even small dogs need walks and playtime. Some little dogs have more energy to let loose everyday than some big dogs, I am no expert but I am just trying to help you with your little boss, I mean that’s what our dogs think they are if we allow them. Dogs want to be told what to do. All Dogs!! Dogs respect their owners far more and love them lots when they get the attention training and exercise they need. When I first got Ziggy, I heard people say ” a tired dog is a good dog!” – Sounded like abuse to me. By 5 mos old I was begging for advice. Took my dog to daycare and he also started his training class at 5 mos. I truly learned alot, and the biggest thing I learned is: Training your dog is a forever job, and that what makes your dog’s life happy, satisfied, and complete! I’m sure by now you got some answers and hopw you and your dog are BFF’s!

  37. We rescued a poodle, shih tzu mix named Willow last week and she has terrible separation anxiety issues. She was supposedly crate trained, but when we leave her, she barks and cries, and then poops in her crate and spreads it around. She totally ignores all her toys and chewy things we put with her. Her crate is not too large, it fits her 11 pound body just fine – thus she has to curl up in a little ball to stay out of her mess. She is supposedly 1 or 2 years old, but she acts more like a puppy – i.e. still tries to chew everything in sight. We decided to rescue another dog to help Willow and we got a 7 years old terrier mix who is very calm and obedient and doesn’t mind being left in her crate. She just lays down, chews on her bone and then goes to sleep. Their two crates are close so they can see each other, but that hasn’t help Willow at all. We leave the TV on and have exercised both dogs before we leave, and made sure they have been outside to pee and poop. Willow doesn’t mind being in the crate as long as we are here. She will go in it by herself and take a nap. Of course, the door is open, so that is one thing that is different when we leave. I got a lot of information from reading the comments above, and we can work on the barking and crying issue. But we need advice what we can do about her pooping.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Do you have her on a strict feeding schedule? That would be my first recommendation. Get her on a schedule of one or two meals per day and then walk her afterwards and she will most likely poop at that time. If you are free feeding her (leaving food out all the time) she won’t be on an schedule and you won’t know when she needs to go. I suggest feeding her once a day in the evening when you get home from work. Then go for a long walk. Don’t feed her in the morning before work unless it is treats in a food-dispensing toy. That way she will be hungry and more willing to chew on these types of toys and she will be less likely to poop in her kennel.

  38. My english bulldog is 1 year old- crated during the day and does not get anxious when I leave the house if she’s in her crate. She’s not overly excited when I come home. Sometimes when I leave and she’s out in the apartment she stands by the door and screams and barks- say when I just go out to take the trash out. She’ll follow me to door if she knows I’m leaving. Lately *every time* I tie her up outside a store she screams and barks as soon as I step inside (I live in NYC and frequently take her on walks and sometimes tie her up for 5-10 minutes while I grab a coffee). First people think it’s cute but it quickly becomes annoying. She also pees / poops in the house if I leave her for long periods of time (5 hours). Biggest issue is tying her outside stores– any advice?

  39. Lindsay Stordahl

    Keep leaving her in the crate when you are at home. If she’s comfortable in there, you’re better of sticking with that.

    You can stretch her limits a bit by tethering her at home and then walking away. Return to her the second she is quiet. Also work on teaching her a reliable down/stay and then work on creating more and more distance. Reward her when she is staying.

    Can you avoid tying her outside of stores? I think you should work on leaving her tied for 30 seconds at a time rather than 10 minutes to get a coffee. Bring a friend along or leave the dog at home if you have to tie her outside for longer than that for now. Slowly work up from 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute and so on when you tie her outside.

  40. Hi, I have a bit of a different separation anxiety problem: So much of the counter-conditioning that I see suggested focuses on dogs that are anxious the minute an owner leaves the house, my problem is that my 14mth-old Viszla urinates/defacates in her crate in the middle of a 4-hour stay or overnight.

    1- We have eliminated all potential medical issues, including ectopic ureters, botched-spays, and UTI’s.
    2- She is perfectly CALM when we leave the house. When we return (or when we wake her up) there is usually evidence that she has tossed the crate and peed. Usually in the same spot.
    3- She does not pee anywhere else in the house, and there is no evidence that she is not house-trained.
    4- We have tried “focus toys”, including Kongs, stuffed with food to distract her. Unfortunately, once she finishes them it’s back to the start.

    The obvious conclusion is that she does not like to be left alone. She is very active, and we give her a lot of exercise, but (and I intend to film her soon) she must just get frustrated towards the end of the morning / afternoon / night, and then freak out. When she does defacate, there is evidence that it is diarrhea (however, she usually eats it).

    I wish I knew how to calm her – not when we leave her, but in the middle of the day! If you have any advice, it would be much appreciated!


    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would hire a dog walker to come take her out for a half-hour in the middle of the day if you can’t get home for lunch. I would also get up once in the middle of the night to take her out.

      I’m not convinced it’s an anxiety thing. She may be unable to hold it for 8 hours since she is getting older.

  41. Hi Lindsay,

    I adopted a year-old pit mix from animal services about a week ago. I’ve received a lot of advice from vets and experts on helping him with his separation anxiety, including this article, and I’m sure in time he will settle into my routine. He gets plenty of exercise, plenty of frozen peanut butter-filled Kongs, sees new places daily, and has very quickly learned basic commands (is staying for longer and longer periods of time in a separate room), housebreaking and leash manners. However, he’s injuring himself while I’m away. I work at night and come home to a raw, bleeding muzzle. I originally bought him a plastic crate but he chewed on it and cut himself on the jagged edges. I tried a metal crate, but he forces his nose between the bars, bruising it and rubbing off the skin.

    Although I am not totally comfortable with the idea, I’ve tried anti-anxiety medication with no results. I’m willing to put in the time and work to correct his behavior, but in the meantime, I myself worry for his safety the entire time I’m away. I fear if I do not crate him, he may find worse ways to harm himself, such as jumping through a glass window. Is there any way I can prevent injury while he is adjusting? It absolutely breaks my heart to see his muzzle bloody and scabbed. Other owners at the dog park avoid personal or pet interactions with him because he looks abused or diseased.

    Because I work at night, I’m not crazy about the idea of leaving him in a kennel, given his recent experience in a shelter and how few hours we will be left with to work on his issues at home. I haven’t found anyone willing to watch and distract him while I’m at work, given my hours. I do have a coworker with a rottweiler mix who I may let me borrow his dog to keep mine company at night, but he warns she has accidents and needs to be crated when left for long periods of time.

    I’m at a loss in the short term as far as just preventing my dog from injuring himself on a daily basis. Would it be better not to crate him? Would having a calm, crated dog in the room help? Is there any kind of tool designed purely to prevent facial injury?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hey Laura,

      It sounds like you are doing all the right things. You sound very patient!

      If you can find a professional pet sitter to come let him out once while you are at work that might help. I’m a pet sitter, and sometimes pet sitters are more flexible with hours than typical dog walkers. You might be able to find one who will even just sit with your dog for an hour or two.

      With most dogs, if they are anxious and destructive in the crate, they will also be destructive out of the crate. You could try leaving him for just a half-hour or so loose in a room while you step out to run errands or just sit in your car to test what he does. I would not leave him loose for the entire time you are at work right off the bat. If I were you, I would probably stick to using the crate. The only time a dog does better out of a crate is if the anxiety is actually caused by the crate vs. being alone. Some dogs haven’t been crate trained and then they freak out when they are confined to one.

      I think your dog will pull that nose protector right off if you get it, and it will probably just make him more anxious. I wouldn’t worry too much about his nose. I’m sure it looks a lot worse than it really is.

      I would keep using the anxiety meds for now. Maybe talk to the vet about switching the kind of meds he is on or changing the dosage.

      Some people have had success with dog appeasing pheromones, although I’m skeptical. You can get a kind that you plug right into an outlet. None of these products have ever worked for any of my foster dogs with anxiety. Worth a shot, though.

      You could try having your friend’s rottie stay with your dog, but I really don’t think that would help. It will probably just add more stress for you. The rottie sounds like she might have accidents, and then you’ll just have to deal with that in addition to your own dog’s issues.

      I think the main thing is to stay calm, shoot for small successes, stick to a routine and keep slowly increasing your dog’s confidence. You will get through this eventually. It just takes some time, often a few months. I wish I had a better answer!

  42. My husband and I just got a 2month old shitzu. we had her now for two weeks. I am very nervous in leaving her at home alone since my husband and I have to work. Would she be ok if left alone for 7 hours till we returned? She has food and water, wee wee pads and lots of toys. and a bed to sleep in. she does not cry when we are leaving but im not sure if she cries when she realize we wont be back for a while.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I wouldn’t worry about separation anxiety, but most 8-week old pups will not be able to hold it for 7 hours. Is there any way you can come home during lunch for a quick bathroom break for her? Any way you could hire a dog walker or pet sitter to visit during the middle of the day? After a month or so she should be OK once she gets the hang of the potty training concept and gets a little older.

      Don’t feel bad about her spending so much time alone, though. Plenty of people work 8-hour shifts and still have dogs. It’s just that she may have an accident or two while you are gone since she is so little yet.

  43. Okay. Me and my bf just got a Puppy about a month ago. She is lab and chow mix and is about 13 weeks to 14 weeks old. This girl is craaaaaaazzzzyyyy! The FIRST mistake my bf did was let her sleep in the bed on the first night ugh! Secondly, over the couple of weeks we’ve had her (before we got a kennel) we would leave her in the bathroom when he or I went somewhere (EPIC FAIL) she tore up the entire bathroom !! Used the bathroom everywhere (pee and poop) chewed uP a leash I bought her managed to open the toilet seat and spill water everywhere pulled the carpet from the OTHER SIDE of the door up, I mean insane and she barks continouslyyyyy when we are out of the room or when she is kenneled and we are about to leave I mean I can hear her outside the apartment walls! Idk what to do I’m on the risk of taking her to a shelter bc I just can not handle it nor do I have the patience! I’m a full time student and I work part time I mean I have lots of time to spend with her but maybe it’s bc we babied her entirely tOo much! I’m hopeless. Oh and we’ve also noticed that when she sees us move the kennel in the bedroom or bathroom she holds her pee/poop (I guess she knows she is about to go in there) for about an hour and then when we put her in there she pees/poops PURPOSELY all over the kennel while we are gone! Helppppp meeeeeee!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Follow the suggestions I listed in this post:

      Take them very seriously. Stick to a routine. Use a kennel. Give her lots of exercise. Give her Kong toys with peanut butter and other goodies when you leave. I’m not trying to make it sound easy. I know it’s very hard and frustrating and takes a lot of time and patience.

      Also, know that she is peeing and pooping in the kennel because she is nervous. She is not doing it to get back at you for leaving. Dogs are not capable of thinking that way. Instead, feed her in the morning before you have to leave but then make sure you have time to take her for a good 45-minute walk. That will give her enough time to relieve herself. Praise her with treats when she goes outside.

  44. Hi Lindsay,

    Thanks for the great article, we will start implementing your advice straight away. I just wanted to comment to see if you have any further advice for us. We have just moved from a warm climate to a very cold one… Our dog (he is two years old) stayed outdoors most of the day and then was allowed inside when we were home. Now we have to keep him inside most of the time while we are out and he has started to paw at the door and flooring. He has already made his way through the lino and is now starting to chew the wood! We have only been in our new place for a month so he might need a bit more time but if there is any additional advice you can give us we would appreciate it!


    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Get a crate for him. It may take him a while to get used to it, but at least if he is in a crate he will not be able to destroy property or injure himself. Then perhaps in a few months or a few years he will be able to be left loose again.

  45. Hi Lindsay,
    I am in the process of purchasing a Maltipoo now and im so paranoid that she might get separation anxiety. I go to school in the morning to the afternoon and i just don’t want her to start having the anxiety while im gone and i just want to avoid problems starting. But the bad part is she is just so cute its really hard to resist to pick her up sometimes. Any advice ?

    1. Advice to you is to not get a dog! You’re obvioulsy not mentally capable of proper training! Like she just said, dogs are not babies! They are not an accessory! Oh, and no one should “purchase” pets. Go adopt one that needs a home and stop being selfish!

      1. My advice to you, Amanda, is that you think before you post things which are unnecessary and don’t help the original poster with the problem she had. Who are you to say that she should not get a dog or that she is mentally incapable of training one, or that she is selfish for that matter. I personally don’t agree for a second that treating a dog like a child is detrimental, I have a 7 year old cairn terrier who has been my ‘baby’ since day one. She’s one of the most well mannered dogs I know, and listens to every word I say. She has no issues with me leaving her on her own for 8 hours a day whilst I work, and she never has. Funnily enough, I also ‘purchased’ her. I agree that there are a lot of rescue dogs who do need homes, but some times you have to make the decision to opt for a puppy from a litter. I made this decision as my schedule meant that I couldn’t offer a rescue dog the time that many of them take to be rehabilitated. You have to think that there are many rescue dogs who have been abused in the past, or have been neglected in some manner, let alone the stress and overriding tensions of being separated from an owner they assumed they would be with for the rest of their lives. Adopting a rescue dog is a big decision to make, and I know from experience that it can be A LOT of hard work, that for some just isn’t a feasible option. I’m not saying all rescue dogs are the same, and I do believe that people should adopt where they are able to, but at the end of the day it is a personal choice. Nothing can beat having that strong bond that you get with a puppy, something which with older rescues you may struggle to obtain. I have had both rescues and puppy’s that I have bought, and both have their pros and cons. Let’s also not forget that if nobody ever bought a puppy from a litter then rescues would be inundated with litters that people are unable to find homes for. It won’t stop people purposefully breeding, as there would still be demand, and accidental litters are bound to happen. Before judging others perhaps you should consider what you are saying.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          I agree. How someone decides to obtain a dog is a personal choice. What’s right for me will not be right for everyone.

          1. Definitely, I think you have to take your personal lifestyle into account, it’s similar to looking at the best breed for you.

  46. Hi all,

    My boyfriend and I moved in together with his maltipoo. I thought nothing of it, since his maltipoo was so darn cute and I love animals– I didn’t foresee any issues with such a small dog.

    What I didn’t know was his dog has extreme separation anxiety (or even knew what that was, despite having had several dogs growing up), which became very apparent when we moved into together. I’m sure this came from a lack of any training as a puppy (I did not come into the dog’s life until he was already 3 years old, a couple years ago), spending 24/7 with him as a puppy because he was unemployed at the time, moving around a lot/having no routine, and encouraging bad behavior by letting him sleep in his bed, giving treats when he cried or for no reason at all. He’s also an escape artist and would find a way to run away at his parents’ house almost every day– there’s no opportunity for him to do that at our place, since we don’t have a yard to put him in. He scratches and bites himself constantly, despite that we know he doesn’t have flees and appropriately bathe him with sensitive skin shampoo. I feel his constant grooming is OCD behavior.

    We are trying to correct his behavior because he is destructive at night and when we’re away from our place. We have a big upstairs loft which he gets all to himself at night and when we’re gone. We tried kenneling and it was a nightmare: he banged, screamed, panted and bit up the whole kennel, completely destroying it. We actually had to get two, because he figured out how to escape from the first one (which was super cheap and just didn’t hold together– he actually figured out how to jimmy the lock open). He has much more space now which is open (on top) and it’s caged off by all metal, so he can’t hurt himself chewing up plastic. We exercise him a lot every day, feed him on schedule, even play a sleep mix for him at night. He has his favorite bed, blanket and stuffed animal with him. We ignore him all the time, only giving him attention when he’s calm, and I’ve trained him to sit, stay, give paw and roll over (he IS a smart dog who has caught on to tricks quickly). We’ve tried all kinds of things, changing our behavior toward him and setting strict rules (he’s not allowed on furniture, in the bedroom, or in the kitchen when we’re eating). He’s not allowed to jump on us when we come through the door and we sternly tell him no when he tries, or just try to ignore him. My boyfriend picks up his keys and puts on his shoes and then ignores the dog’s excitable behavior until he calms down, before taking him for a walk. It’s been months and months, and although we’ve seen a little progress, it’s not enough.

    I woke up at 5am today to screaming, crying, banging, panting and howling. It lasted for hours. I work a lot and need sleep– a good night for me is when the dog is quiet. I’m stressed out all the time. This dog’s behavior seems insane. Once, he jumped 6 feet off the stairs up to the loft because my boyfriend was in the other room. We were surprised he didn’t seriously hurt himself jumping that far on to hardwood floors. We’ve had to make several changes to how he’s contained in the loft so he doesn’t try to escape and injure himself.

    After all of our work, we decided to try medication (which the author advises against) in combination with our efforts. The medication has had no effect whatsoever! He isn’t, in any way, at all different! It’s incredible. I was expecting to see some kind of change, negative or positive… but nothing. He’s still high energy, excitable, has panic attacks, watches my boyfriend every move constantly, tries to follow him into every room… the same as it has always been.

    I’m at my wits end, but this dog is my boyfriend’s baby. I’m miserable. It’s so hard trying to train separation anxiety out of an older, 5 year old dog. Can anyone advise me on how long it might take? How much longer should I keep trying before accepting that this is the way things are? Please help. I’d just like to know if things will get better, or if some dogs just never get over their psychological issues.


  47. Also, we do give him kongs filled with treats and all kinds of things to try and keep his mind busy. He’ll only play with them when we’re close by him. He won’t touch these things when we’re gone.

  48. Hi MaltipooAnxiety!

    I’m sorry to hear about your problems.
    What kind of drugs does your dog get? Did you talk to the vet about his anxiety?


  49. Hi guys

    My puppy is very anxious when I even leave the room, I’ve been trying to reward her with food when u leave but she’s worked this out and just leaves it until I get back. I have no problem with her going to the gate but she wees on the floor and now pooing when I’m not there . How do I solve this ? I’m paranoid about leaving her in the kitchen too long but now this forum says the more time apart the better ? Feel like I could’ve majoring her more anxious? She’s not had any jabs yet so we take her for a walk in our arms and play in the kitchen to wear her out for the night x

    1. I put together an ebook that answers many of these questions. I hope you find it helpful. I recommend a crate for both potty training and working on the separation issues. The key is to leave the dog for short periods and ignore any crying. And don’t make your return a big deal. The dog should learn that good things happen when you leave (Wow! Some hamburger!) and nothing exciting happens when you return (boring).

      Here is a link to the ebook:
      Here is a link to a potty training post:

  50. I came to this site because I have no idea how to address the new dog issues I have with my new Pomeranian. Excellent advice that I have instantly began to implement. Thank you!

    Oh, also, I am totally amazed that people are actually asking questions that are answered by the above next, offered by the writer of the blog! Read the blog. It a wonderful blog that’s chock-ful of information on dog behavior.

    Read directions, then execute.

  51. I have a year and a half year old pitbull that has struggled with separation anxiety since day one. I mean she has ripped carpets up, ate doors, broke welds on metal crates, chewed through plastic crates and drools enough to completely dehydrate herself. Since I am a veterinary tech assistant and work at a ahaa accredited animal hospital I get to know about all of the new drugs etc. since she is only a little over a year, we did not want to give her acepromazine or Xanax because it could cause long term damage since it would have to be used every day. First off, I bought an preselect empire crate with 1/4 inch thick steel bars. (She cannot destroy this one) then I decided to try those silly pheromone diffusers…turns out they’re not so silly. I plug this diffuser in everyday when I leave and now the only howl I get is once when she hears my car door. 🙂 I could not be happier. No more drooling, barking, howling, or chewing. She will even eat and drink in her crate now. Before she would just shake and drool. Anyways, it’s called adaptil if anyone else is interested. Also there are no side effects and your dog never becomes resistant! Your veterinarian will probably have it or be able to order it or point you to someone that does have it.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So glad you’ve found something that works for your dog. Thanks for the tips. It will be helpful to others.

  52. Hi,
    Im having problems with my dog. She’s round about 8 or 9, Border Collie X German Shepherd. My mom recently passed away from cancer, and they were best friends. My dog wont eat her dog food. She sometimes eats the treats we give her but otherwise she just leaves them. She does drink a lot.
    Im not sure what to do.
    Please help
    Thanks, Simone

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear about your mom. I think your dog will eat eventually once she is hungry enough. I’m not sure how long this has been going on, but I’ve seen dogs go four or five days without eating. Then they eat. Dogs will not starve themselves unless they are physically sick and unable to eat. If you are worried, though, you could take your dog to the vet just to be sure nothing is wrong.

  53. Hi there,

    I just came across your website and I was hoping you could help me. I adopted a husky mix about a month and a half ago. He’s developed a pretty severe case of separation anxiety, where he is actually jumping out of windows, clawing and ripping at doors and eliminating in the house. My coworkers have come to work on the farm where I live with 6 other people to my dog hanging out of the second story window in a bedroom bc he wanted to get out of the house so badly. I know that huskys need a lot of mental stimulation, and I’ve been trying to give it to him, but his destruction is getting worse and worse. I work 9 to 5 everyday, so I can’t ease him into being alone all that well. And the one time I did leave him in his crate, he broke out of it twice and chipped his canine. There was blood everywhere. I’m doing all that I can (ie ignoring him for 20 before/after I leave, crate training, etc.) but it’s not enough. Do you have any tips as to what else I can do?
    If he keeps this up I’ll have to return him to the shelter bc it’s not my house and my bosses were very specific about the rules if I brought him to the farm where I worked (any destruction I’d have to pay for, and if it got bad enough he’d have to go..) I really don’t want to do that because I love him a lot.

    Help please.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I hate to suggest anti anxiety medication but this seems like a case where it’s an option. The goal would be to use other behavior modification tools in addition to the medication and eventually wean him off of it.

    2. I’m not a professional but if I could also give any advice, I’d like to add that if you work everyday 5 days a week, putting him in doggy daycare a couple days a week will probably help him quite a bit also. He’s a good size dog and needs a lot of daily exercise. Doggy daycare tires my dog enough that if I take him 2 or 3 days a week he is tired out the days in between enough for him to appreciate the rest, and I give him a good long walk after I get home from work on the nights I do not take him to daycare. I also agree with the medication to start with. It does sound pretty severe. However , thinking long term you being gone 40 hours a week, a dog his size really does need the exercise. Sometimes having a dog seems stressful and hard to keep up with; however, dogs truly can be the best thing to happen to you. Just might take some time! Good luck I hope everything works out for you and your dog.

  54. I hope this site is still going… Here goes.
    I house/dog sit for my parents when they go on vacation. they typically go once or twice a year for about two weeks. They have a labradoodle that is currently 6 years old. He still acts like a puppy. My Dad has always coddled him and always treats him like he is a golden child (I am 25, my sister 28, we both live outside of the house, so it is just my parents and the dog at the house usually). Things are usually fine when my parents go away on these vacations (I’d say I’ve done this 4-5 times now) other than the dog being a bit depressed. This time around after about day 2 of them being gone he started whining/whimpering constantly. I mean non-stop. He does it while he goes on walks, while he plays, while he eats, before he sleeps, it has been 4 days and 3 nights straight he has been doing this. The ONLY difference is this time I brought my cat over and he is not allowed in the room I sleep in with her (we put up a child-proof gate) but that’s not the room he sleeps in anyway. I have asked him to “show me” what he wants and just picks up one of his squeeky toys and I play with him but he whimpers the whole time. I think he is missing my parents, mostly my Dad. Any suggestions?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      My dog does a lot of whining. In his case, it’s usually because his routine is off and he just needs more exercise to settle down. I’m not saying that is necessarily the case with your parents’ dog, but maybe if you took him on some long, long walks it would help him settle in.

      Does he seem good with the cat? Maybe if he gets a chance to safely interact with the cat, it would help him settle down too. Of course, that could backfire, too. If the cat hisses at him or runs from it, it could just get him even more excited.

      Just brainstorming here …

    2. Very well is likely he is scared of the cat. Remember that is his house; his territory, and he’s already worked up that Dad (& Mom) left. Has he ever been around a cat before? In the same house anyway I mean? Dogs are so sensitive. And jealous I might add! If your going to be there 2 weeks I would certainly suggest taking your cat home. Unless you really can’t. Good Luck! I hope everything works out!

  55. So, I have a unique situation that I’m curious to know your opinion on. My girlfriend and I recently adopted a shepherd mix (possibly rottie, possibly doberman, possibly lab … possibly all of them! No one seems to know … she was found roaming an Indian reservation, then spent time in a shelter, then a foster home, and then we finally adopted her). She was about 4 months when we got her and she is now 6 months. We both work during the day, and always had intentions of crating her, so before we even got her, we set one up in our kitchen. She was never nervous of her crate (went right in it the day we got her) and is still not afraid of it at all (when we say “go to bed” she runs right in, waiting for her PB filled Kong). The first couple nights out in the kitchen were a really tough transition for her with lots of whining and whimpering. We broke down and moved her to our bedroom after trying for a couple of nights (I know – not the right decision) just to try to make her adjustment easier, which did work. After about a week in the bedroom, we moved her back out to the kitchen, and everything was still perfect – no whining, no barking, no scratching at the crate. So, everything seemed good as far as we could tell. However, that’s about when we started noticing a few oddities. First was that she chewed the blanket we had covering her crate. Then she chewed up the second bed we gave her (the first went down the very first day we left her alone after adopting her … peed on it and tore it up, which I was not surprised by at all since it was only her first time being left alone). Then, she figured out how to break out of her crate! She did this 4 times before we smartened up and bought some carabiners (metal clips) so that we could secure the corners & door of the crate and prevent her from escaping. When she breaks out, she doesn’t chew anything in the house, but we can tell that she jumps onto our couches and bed (where she’s not allowed) and one time she dragged a sweatshirt from our bedroom to the living room, but didn’t chew it up. After securing the crate, we figured it would just be a matter of time before she settled into the routine, but things seem to be the same, if not worse. The only reason we know that is because we started to notice how her crate wasn’t in the same place by the time we get home from work (for lunch or after work). It was always a few inches to a few feet away, so I set up an ipad to record her behavior. What happens is actually quite jarring. We give her a Bento Ball every morning and after we let her out at lunch so that she always has something to keep her occupied and also has some treats for her. As the video shows, she gets the treats in about 1 minute then starts wildly barking, yelping, screaming, and attacking the crate. She is crazy smart – she bites & scratches the crate RIGHT where we put our hands to open & close it. She scratches at the bottom tray of the crate and chews on the divider was well. Before we started the recordings, we attempted a third bed, which she tore up promptly the first day having it, but she had successfully made it through the night before without so much as even licking it! She seems to calm down most days within a half hour, but it is an insane half hour with some serious crate attacking going on. We’re not home, so we can’t correct her, so I’m pretty much stumped as to what to do. She’s proving herself to be the smartest dog I’ve ever had or even seen in my life – “roll over” took two days to learn, “shake” about a day. She does well on walks, can run along side my bike, loves all her chew toys, etc. It appears that she just doesn’t like being crated during the day, but I know that it’s not that simple. She’s not afraid of the crate AT ALL, and never makes a noise if we put her in it while we’re in the house (but she DOES almost instantly go into her “crazy” mode if we put her in the crate and leave her when it’s not on the standard work schedule … such as going out to dinner instead of eating in), so it seems logical that it must be some sort of anxiety … or perhaps even though we’re walking, running, and biking with her she still needs more exercise due to her breeds? Is she not mentally challenged enough maybe? We’ve started leaving more toys in the crate with her, but the video shows she barely cares about those when the Bento Ball is also with her. Hopefully you can provide some tips as I’m sure our neighbors can’t be happy with her twice (or more) daily freak outs!!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That sounds so frustrating! The good news is that your dog does settle down after a half-hour. That may not sound like good news, but it is. Some dogs literally freak out the entire time they are alone. So, with your ability to record her when you’re gone, maybe with time she will begin to cry and freak out for 25 minutes, then 20, etc. That is my hope.

      Increased exercise can certainly help, but usually if the dog is truly freaked out, no amount of exercise will remove the problem. How many miles are you taking her per day? Maybe if you increased her exercise in the morning? Also, if you can get her into the kennel when she is in a calm state of mind and then close the door while she is calm, that can help her remain calm. Easier said than done, of course.

      You could try a variety of puzzle toys for her so she has more to work on. Make some really easy to keep her interest and some more challenging with highly, highly valued goodies in it. Maybe peanut butter or canned dog food or hamburger. Freezing the toy filled with peanut butter over night will make it last longer.

      If you haven’t read my ebook, I go over lots more detail in there:

  56. Hi! I have a 2 month pug , and i am trying to make her feel secure when i m not around..
    but since she is so young i leave her at my room alone, and 1 min. after that she cries , scratch the door but the worst part of all …she hits with her head on the door!
    after 15 min she stops but i am worried. isn t she hurted by beating with the head on the door?
    is there any way tfor her to stop doing that? it worries me…

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I know it sounds bad, but if she’s only crying for 15 minutes and then stops, that is good news! I think she will get over this if you keep ignoring the behavior, as hard as that is. Have you left her any yummy treats like Kong toys filled with peanut butter?

  57. Hey Lindsay!
    My 1 and a half year old male golden retriever was born and raised in our apartment. We would walk him 3 times a day and during the evenings he loved the dog park where he played with his friends. However, sadly we moved to another neighborhood and his behaviour has really changed. He often barks and cries while constantly walking around the apartment. He never plays with his toys and follows me with every step that I take. The worst part is that I don’t leave the house everyday or that often anymore because he barks and whines constantly. İt has gotten to a point where I think he does not want to be with us anymore but rather with the old neighborhood. During the night he doesnt sleep and walks around the apartment. What can I do to help him adjust? There are other dogs here which he does play with and İ did take him for a tour around the neighborhood but it made no difference. Please help

  58. Hope you can help…!
    My parents had 2 10 year old bitch Westies- sisters from the same litter. In November 2014 one passed away, coincidentally the same time my parents were moving house. As a result I have adopted the surviving dog, but am having real problems settling her into our home.
    I put her basket in our kitchen where she seemed most comfortable, and leave her in there both when I’m at work during the day, and to sleep in at night- we live in a ground floor flat so our bedroom is next door to said kitchen. Every night at 5am she wakes us crying/howling. After ignoring it for 20 mins all I need to do is get up, shout at her to return to the basket and be quiet, and generally she does and we manage to go back to sleep. The other side is that she urinates too, despite me putting her out right before bed and removing her water for the night. Somewhat of a protest pee…?!
    As well as this, when I return home from work, I use the ‘ignore’ rule despite her going crazy with excitement, again to find she has urinated on the floor….and this happens every day. The urination happened occasionally whilst she was at mum and dads (though we could never tell if it was her or her sister who was to blame), but I’m just looking for some advice on what to do. Is it likely that she’ll settle down in time, or is it a bigger issue? Hoping you can help before I (and my poor neighbours) lose our marbles! Thanks you, Gemma x

  59. so i adopted a shelter dog, shes about 8 months old and shes a terier mix. she’s learned to sit on command and calm down a bit, she only has two problems, one, she won’t pee outside for anything, i’ll take her outside as soon as i take her out of her crate, i’ll feed her and give her water, wait about 10 minutes and try to take her again, she’ll come inside and go pee on the carpet, we scold her when we catch her doing it. she just won’t pee outside for anything, i’m literally outside for at least an hour or more sometimes…
    her second problem is that ONLY when we leave does she not like her cage, we come back home to hear her barking from outside and she’s pooped in her crate, which she never does when we’re home.

  60. How can I stop my 8 weeks old jackrussel from biting my hand all the time,is it excitement when playing or how do I stop this please

  61. Hi!
    I have a Pomeranian mix. I do not know what kind of dog that is in her. The previously owner never told me. But she looks exactly like Elli! What kind of mix is she? Could you help me as well?

    Contact me: Henny Abelseth

  62. I have a 7 year old Shih Tzu, He is completely house trained and an EXTREMELY good pet. When I was working, I would leave him completely alone for up to 5 to 8 hours a day at least 3 days a week, no accidents and no harm done to the house. He has complete run of the entire house. I never allowed him to get on the furniture and never put him in his kennel. My reason for contacting you is, how can I break him from being a runner? The minute any door is opened he immediately runs out the door and down the side walk or straight to the street. i am so afraid that he will be hit by a car or simply run away. A couple of times I was unable to find him for several hours. In my search for him I told neighbors that I was looking for him and one of the neighbors brought him home. Please tell me what I can do to stop this behavior. Yes he gets exercise and he has a fenced yard to play, but he doesn’t like to be in the yard very long. Thank you for responding

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Marilyn. How is his general obedience? Will he come when called when he’s on a leash? How about things like sit, stay, etc? Working on all those basics really helps. With the doorways, I would try having him on a long lead and then spending a few minutes every day opening the door and then correcting him for moving towards the door. Step on the leash to prevent him from bolting. Tell him no. Then direct him back. Reward him for staying calm.

      I would also work on his general “come!” command. Here is a post with some ideas:

  63. Two yr old Doxie, I leave in a big kennel when I go away for short periods, he now chews bottom of crate part and moves th bottom until he standing on the wire . I give him hard toys , can’t give him anything soft tears up blankets toys , has terrible anxiety when I’m gone , I can’t leave him in a close room either he chews everything

  64. hi 🙂 my name is Rebecca, i am from Ireland, i have a dog, a mix breed of a pomeranion Shit szu. i got him when he was only six months. hes one now! i find myself he hates being alone and he sleeps in the kitchen at night. even being alone in the house for five mimutes or if one of us leave, he will cry. so night times.. im worried that he feels like im abandoning him (sorry i know its not spelt right) im probably being silly but hes my baby and id hate to think he feels like that. please leave me know what you think. thank you!!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Does he have neighbors he is bothering when he barks/cries? Is he damaging any property? If not, I’d say let him cry and just ignore him while you work on getting him used to being alone. Try using a kennel/crate if you haven’t, stocking it with lots of goodies like Kong-type toys filled with peanut butter. Increase his exercise and work on obedience training every day to build confidence. You may have tried these things but that’s where I’d start.

  65. Hi, i have 7 months old Husky that runs off towards children,dogs & other living things? He is fine & obeys me until someone or animal appears! He runs away from me & won’t return until i go & fine him with my car! Even calling his name he stays with the stangers ,with or without a dog present! He suffer from anxiety abandnement & insecurity when I leave him for even 30 secones! Yet he can stay out of my reach for hours when on the go! Does he really suffur from anxiety or abandonement? I wonder because he can separate himself from me for a long period of time ex: 2 or more hours on the run without returning to my calls! Why does he run away !

  66. Hi I have 2 husky/ boxer mixes and I got them when they were 5 weeks old & are around 5 months old. Whenever I take one out to give them a bath or guide them a walk the other whines, cries and barks is there any way to get them to realise is going to be OK and to stop doing this?

  67. Sandy Weinstein

    Evie never really had separation anxiety however, my youngest did and still does sometimes. she just tears up things like potty pads, takes the dead leaves out of plants or shreds her toys. i leave treats in the house, hiding for them to get when i leave. i also dont make it a big deal when i am leaving. however, they are waiting for me at the door when they see my car coming down the hill. i also put treats in the rock n’ bowl for them to get.

  68. Lindsay,
    the article is very educational but recently I and Oscar moved to the different state and I can see he is sad because he is missing my son, his cat and my sister. Do you have an advise for this type separation anxiety?

  69. Hello
    I have a 3.5 year old pitbull/catahoula with severe separation anxiety. We adopted her and her sister from a shelter in dallas. she is a great dog whenever we are home and she is with us. no issues at all. however her sister and her aren’t getting along, this causes us to keep them separate in which we will put her in our master bedroom with food and water to lay down. Or when we have to work she will be put up in her kennel (escape proof, as she has destroyed any and all from petsmart. doing physical harm to herself trying to get out.) she will sweat and pant to the point of around a 1/2 inch of drool builds in the bottom of her kennel while we are away. she barks uncontrollably and it will take several hours for her to slowly start a calm down process but any slight noise and she will start again. she has dug through carpet and the concrete foundation under the carpet. I worry its getting to a point that we may have to re-home her. we do not want this to happen but fear our only option is to find the right home with someone who will not have to kennel or put her away as often. I’m curious if you have any suggestions on what we can do to try and break this or calm this habit? I feel the only thing i haven’t tried is a thundershirt. what are your thought on this working with such a severe case? thank you for your time and thoughts.

  70. Excellent article!
    I would add trying the Thundershirt, I’ve had very good success with one of my dogs who in her later years developed separation anxiety. There is also a Thunder Ease spray which can be sprayed right on the Thundershirt. I saw a huge difference using the spray, it even stopped her seizures her anxiety caused.
    A weighted vest works extremely well for anxiety in dogs. I use and recommend the XDOG brand.
    Making sure the dog has plenty of exercise, both physical AND mental really helps. My ACD does two hours a day at a walk on his treadmill, his daily kibble is used as rewards for obedience and tricks, or in interactive toys like his Kong Wobbler and Snuffle Mat. We have also started doing Box Feeding, which uses up a huge amount of mental energy.

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