Don’t Panic!

Understanding Separation Anxiety In Dogs

By Linda Brodzik CSAT FDM

Separation anxiety, also known as Isolation Distress or Separation Distress is real. It is real for the dog who suffers from it, and it is real for these dogs’ people who don’t know what to do to help their dogs feel calm, settled, and relaxed when home alone.

Dogs suffering from separation anxiety are not giving their people a hard time, they are having a hard time! They are suffering and they are panicked when left alone. These dogs lack the self-calming skills and ability to feel safe when alone. They need understanding, they need support, and they need expert help in training to learn to self-calm and feel safe when home alone.

Common signs that your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety may include, but not be limited too, vocalizations such as whining or barking excessively, escape behaviors such as scratching and digging or chewing at doors that you have left from, windows they watch out, or their crates if confined. Inappropriate elimination in the house when home alone is another sign, as is excessive salivation, or even lethargy or depression.

What causes separation anxiety? There are many factors that can contribute to a dog who suffers and panics when home alone. Genetics, learning history, or traumatic experiences may contribute to separation anxiety concerns. Singleton pups, pups born as a single puppy without litter mates can develop separation anxiety concerns, as can dogs who have been living out on the streets, or moved around in shelters, although not all dogs from these situations will develop separation anxiety.

The good news is that there is help for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. With a proper approach to training and management these dogs can learn to self-calm and feel safe when home alone. The first step is to consult with your veterinarian to be sure that there are no underlying medical conditions that might be contributing to your dog feeling uneasy when home alone. Dogs do not show pain like humans do. If a dog is not feeling well, they may be more needy and attached to their person and seek comfort. The next move is to find a trainer who has specialized training in working with dogs suffering from separation anxiety. Treating separation anxiety is not like working with any other behavior problem. It takes an individual and constantly adjusting approach to the details of the specify dogs progress and needs.

The best, and most successful method of helping dogs overcome separation anxiety is through a training process known as systematic desensitization. This method is very similar to methods used by therapists of human behavior to help patients overcome fears, such as of flying, water, or heights. Systematic Desensitization is a methodology of training that customizes the exposure to being left home alone in increments that your dog can succeed at, AND, importantly, build your dog’s ability to learn self-calming and control skills. This method builds trust, comfort, and your dog’s ability to relax when home alone.

Not sure if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety? No problem. A well educated and certified trainer who specializes in separation anxiety can help you figure this out. And if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety a separation anxiety specialist trainer can help your dog find peace of mind when home alone.

Linda Brodzik is a Certified Separation Anxiety Training (CSAT) who has engaged in extensive studies and has been tested and certified in the specialized training of dogs suffering from Separation Anxiety. She has over 40 years of experience and continuing education in the field of dog behavior, learning and training. Linda has helped countless dogs find peace of mind when home alone, including her own Black and Tan Coonhound, who suffered severely when adopted as a young puppy. You can view her complete educational and experience Bio on her website: