Dog separation anxiety isn’t “bad behavior” – help your lonely pup feel better

May 9, 2024

Dogs enjoy being around their humans, whether exploring the great outdoors together or cuddling up indoors. But sometimes, a dog’s desire for attention can lead to issues when you’re away, potentially endangering your pet’s well-being.

The fear of being alone

It is a frequent concern among pet parents that their dogs exhibit disruptive or destructive behavior when left alone. Dogs feeling frustrated because nobody else's in the house may pee or poop inside, chew up shoes, destroy furniture, and howl or bark excessively. If you notice such anxiety-causing events becoming recurrent for your canine companion, don't be quick to conclude that your dog is ill-trained or doesn't know which toys are his to chew. If your four-legged friend is sad or shows its "dark side" taking it out on your soft furnishings, and this behavior escalates especially when you prepare to leave the house, you can be certain that your dog is dealing with separation anxiety.

What causes your pup's separation anxiety?

In fact, this condition is quite common - one in every four to six dogs is unable to cope with being alone. Often, what triggers separation anxiety is a major change or stressful event that left them feeling unsafe. Was there a sudden change in schedule as to when or how long your dog spends time alone? Did you move to a new home or recently lost another pet or a family member? Or maybe there was a heavy thunderstorm that scared your dog while you were away? These are all traumatic events that can cause separation anxiety as your furry friend associates them with being alone, with neither mommy nor daddy around to comfort them.

Is your pup on the list? Check the dog breeds most prone to separation anxiety

Separation anxiety can affect dogs of all sizes, ages, and breeds, but there are some breeds that get upset when you're gone more than others (yeah, the loving Golden Retriever is also on the list). Here are some other breeds that are known for their sociable and affectionate nature, hence their higher likelihood of suffering when their human is not around:

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavvies are bred to be companion dogs, so they are not accustomed to being left alone for extended periods. The Cavalier King Charles is a breed that tends to be anxious by nature, which often manifests as your pup pacing, drooling, barking, or destroying your property.

German Shepherd

Known for its reputation as a great police, guard, and military working dog, the German Shepherd is actually quite sensitive and forms deep bonds with its owners. Your big softie will be quite confused and upset if you, for instance, suddenly stop taking them for the long walks you have been enjoying together until recently.

Jack Russell Terrier

Dogs of this lively breed are full of energy and need lots of mental and physical stimulation to keep them from getting bored and inventing their own ways of entertainment (like chewing your brand-new shoes, for instance!). They require a human presence to interact with and prevent them from getting into trouble.

Border collies, poodles, boxers, and beagles are also among those breeds that don't cope well with isolation for extended periods, causing them stress and anxiety.

Taming your dog's separation anxiety

Of course, you don't want your pup to suffer anymore from the stress of being away from you. There are many ways to help manage your dog's separation anxiety:

  1. Start with introducing routine rituals - set up a daily routine so that your dog knows when they will go for a walk, eat, play, take care of their needs, receive attention, and, most importantly, when they will be home alone.
  2. Downplay departures and comebacks - Keeping hellos and goodbyes gentle and relaxing sends a message to your anxious pet that they have nothing to fear while you are away.
  3. Give your dog interactive toys to keep them occupied - puzzle feeders, chew toys, treat-dispensing balls - you have plenty of options!
  4. You can record the usual household sounds and play the recording for relaxation when they are home alone. Play the tape from time to time to prevent your dog from only linking it with your absence. 
  5. Use a familiar smell - Leave a piece of your worn clothing for your dog to snuggle with in your absence. Just as your voice can be soothing to your dog, so too can your smell be comforting.
  6. Try some natural remedies - If all these methods are not effective in calming your pet's separation anxiety, you can try herbal remedies such as CBD oil, which assists in the body's production of serotonin, a natural mood balancer.

This content is provided in partnership with and is intended for informational purposes only. The views, opinions, and advice expressed in this article are solely those of and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of any other individual, organization, or entity.

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