About Dog

Separation Anxiety

and FAQs

We offer resources and support options to treat dog separation anxiety. Fill out our quick prospective client form to see how we can help.

What Separation Anxiety Looks Like: A Dog’s View

“I’m Bella. I’m happy, boisterous, and full of energy. I love just about everything and everyone. But most of all, I live for my wonderful humans.

Every day when I’m left alone I’m overcome with panic. My heart races, my body shakes, and my insides squeeze into a knot. I pant, drool, bark and howl, and sometimes even wet myself. I can’t control my fear, and I’ve even torn up the door in my desperation to get to my people.”

What Separation Anxiety Looks Like: An Owner’s View

“Bella is an awesome dog. She’s funny and smart and affectionate. But we don’t know what to do with her. When we leave the house to go to work, run errands or anything else she falls apart. The neighbors are complaining about her barking, and I’m constantly stressed about what I’m going to find when I get home—an angry note, a torn-up door, pee on the carpet, Bella acting like I’ve been gone for years instead of hours. I feel so bad for her, but I can’t figure out how to make her understand we’re coming back—we always come back. I’m not sure how much longer this can go on.”

Sound Familiar?

You are NOT alone. This is a classic narrative for the millions of dogs suffering from separation anxiety and the people who love and care for them. Approximately 20% of the dogs in the United States alone suffer from some degree of separation anxiety, and we are here to help. Separation anxiety IS treatable.

We are the leading experts in separation anxiety in dogs.

Information and Guidance You Can Trust

A simple online search will return considerable false and conflicting information about how to best treat separation anxiety in dogs. The internet is filled with quick-fix suggestions (e.g., leave them with a food toy, crate them for alone time) but none of these band-aids yield appreciable or sustainable results. The good news is that separation anxiety is treatable, and starting with the right information will yield those sought-after results while saving time, money, and emotional bandwidth. We work to educate our clients every step of the way. If you are unsure if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, fill out our questionnaire to see how we can help.

Dog Separation Anxiety FAQ

Dog Separation Anxiety FAQs

Separation anxiety training is unlike many other types of dog training because it requires treatment of an emotional response, rather than simply teaching a new behavior or trick. Much like a human seeing a counselor for help with a fear or phobia, there’s no way to predict a timeline for a “cure.” Each dog is different (as are owners and their abilities to carry out the training exercises), so progress can start to happen within a few weeks or not for months. While separation anxiety is a highly treatable disorder, the rate of progress is slow, particularly in the early stages. Thankfully, learning begins to accelerate once we’ve made careful initial gains. You can affect the rate of your progress by being consistent and devoting time to the process.

That depends on the length of treatment. Working with separation anxiety is different from regular obedience dog training or other behavior modification programs. The trainer invests considerable time creating specific, individualized plans, reviewing video regularly, giving feedback, and adjusting the written criteria based on reading the dog’s body language and assessing his progress.

The only potential additional cost in treating separation anxiety is the purchase of an inexpensive webcam (if you don’t already have one) and a checkup with your veterinarian (if necessary).

If only. Unfortunately, most dogs with separation anxiety tend to get worse if left alone repeatedly while experiencing anxiety. Your dog’s body is flooded with stress-inducing chemicals each day he’s left alone. Also, most dogs start to learn the clues or precursors that indicate alone-time is approaching, and that makes them hyper-vigilant and anxious even when you’re home. We know it seems illogical and irrational, but many phobias are, even for humans.
We highly discourage the use of any anti-barking collar. The use of a citronella or shock collar may suppress anxiety-induced barking for a while, permanently, or not at all. Either way, the barking is merely an outward symptom of severe panic and getting rid of the barking doesn’t get rid of the panic. A dog with separation anxiety is suffering—hence the desperate barking, whining, or howling. With or without vocalization, your dog needs and deserves help. And typically, anti-barking collars worsen separation anxiety dramatically, even if they sometimes silence the dog in the process.
Unequivocally no. Although it is tempting to think so, dogs don’t have the same cognitive machinery we humans have and so do not experience or have the ability to express resentment, guilt, or angry protest. Your dog isn’t angry with you for leaving, he’s terrified of being left alone, and this is not a voluntary state of being for him.
Possibly. We have found that crate use can often exacerbate separation anxiety. While some dogs appear calmer when left in a crate, if they’re introduced to it slowly with positive methods, many dogs try to escape from their crate during alone-time and that can become dangerous if they catch paws or teeth on metal parts. Using a room with a baby gate, or closing off some areas of the house, is an ideal alternative for many dogs. Finding out what type of environment is best suited for your dog will take time and observation on your part. If you’re uncertain, work with a trainer who can help you observe your dog’s body language to help you make the best decision for you and your dog. And yes, even those dogs that have been destructive in the past or have had potty accidents due to anxiety can be successful outside of the crate – we’ll show you how.
Alone-time anorexia is a common symptom in dogs with separation anxiety. The goal of treatment is to get your dog to a place where he’s comfortable when left alone. It may surprise you to learn that food use is not the cornerstone of working with separation anxiety, if it is used at all. Using food in most types of training is paramount, but it works a little differently with separation anxiety.
Not necessarily. There are several medications available to support a training program for separation anxiety in dogs, and we have seen significant benefit from their use with many cases. The choice to use medication is personal and should be discussed with your veterinarian. Various factors may dictate whether you want to consider medication, but in any case, following a solid behavior modification program is the most important component of treating separation anxiety. Medication alone won’t take care of the problem.
A small percentage of dogs don’t display anxiety when another dog is present, but it isn’t a large enough percentage to suggest you run out and get a second dog. If you truly feel getting a second dog might be helpful in your case, we suggest working with a trainer to find out if your hunch is right. And if it is, enlist the trainer to help you choose an appropriate second dog. We recommend that you work on your dog’s separation anxiety before adding a second dog.

Want to learn more?

Read Malena’s book, Separation Anxiety in Dogs. Though written for dog trainers specializing in SA treatment, a savvy dog owner can certainly benefit. Malena’s book can help you better understand what separation anxiety is, why it happens, and what’s possible to achieve through training. Additionally we have an online self-paced course for owners called Mission Possible. If you really want to geek out on separation anxiety, Malena has several podcasts for review as well.

Ready To Start The Healing
Process With Your Dog?

The first step is to reach out

Ready to explore treating your dog’s separation anxiety? Start by filling out this prospective client questionnaire.

Training Options

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