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BEHAVIOUR: Seperation Anxiety by Vicky Collins-Natrass

Separation anxiety

What is Separation anxiety?

  • Dog cannot cope with being alone
  • *displacement from the pack…. survival instinct to stay with the pack
  • Physical Symptoms of / and Indications
  • Dog will display some if not all the following behaviours
  • Destruction …. of items
  • Self-mutilation, barking, howling, whimpering,
  • Messing, shaking. lack of self-control, drooling, panic attacks, loss of concentration
  • Loss of hair, scratching
  • General distress, emptying bins, opening fridges and cupboards

Why might separation anxiety happen and be triggered?


          Lifestyle changes ……. major, house move, divorce, new baby

          Mini lifestyle changes……job hours changing

*Dogs not being used to being left alone [regularly]

      Having an extraordinarily strong bond with the owner,

  • The leaving of the dog…winding up,

        Saying prolonged goodbyes, settling dog in the bed, going through a    routine which the dog learns means that they will be left.

  • Anticipating the owners return

     Exciting the dog on the return, playing petting, talking,


Negative reactions on finding damage, shouting anger,

The result being a confused wrecked dog …. doesn’t know if it should be welcoming or hiding from owner’s wrath!

*Guilt of owner….

  Communicating itself, by the owner overcompensating for leaving the dog,

 Too much attention leading up to the dog being left. Home normally busy, suddenly is  quiet,  solitude

Rescue dogs

 These have special problems and needs …they bring baggage that is sometimes hard to interpret, from past experiences.

Separation anxiety

The Treatment

We must bring a change in the pattern the dog has become used to, breaking the signals that trigger the behaviour, By:



*Create Non-Event on leaving

*diffuse and divert

*Chronic Behaviour

Try use of homeopathic remedies, DAP etc. CBD oil

This is will help bring about a change in the cycle

How do we change and achieve this training?      

1 What does ‘ignore’ look like?

To ignore the dog on entering the house, no eye contact, no greeting, no touching, no excitement.

Owner to totally ignore the dog for at least 30 mins on return,

By going about tasks and everyday events that the dog will find boring, making a cup of tea, reading the mail, watching the TV, going on the computer.

 Letting the dog completely settle down and allowing the owner to choose the time for greeting not the dog.

Owner MUST not react to bad behaviour, ignore the damage /dirt any misdemeanours

2. Create Separation times, even when still in the house.

  Making sure the dog has a safe environment, to   re - enforce the leaving and returning.

Use of a crate in this situation can be useful.

         * Method of leaving by the door

Aim teach dog to be alone.

Leave the dog in a room ,go outside the door and wait quietly,  time to be from 30 seconds to  1 minute at first gradually increasing ,if the dog barks or scratches the door don’t speak just BANG the door.


When the dog is quiet, return, totally ignore the dog, arms folded [Body Language], after 3 mins repeat again

Repeat up to 6 times… to reinforce the notion you go then you come back in.

Gradually increase the time spent away from the dog move further away from the door. Practice daily   5 or 6 times [it takes 6 times repetition for the dog to learn]

Next day

If the dog settles with no noise, then it is ok to increase the time you spend outside the door.

The measure is:  does the dog accept this?

If so, increase the time spent alone…build this up to 2 hours but you must be in the house to respond with a bang should the dog start to make a noise.

 No leaving your house and return to your dog only when quiet.

A good time to start this behaviour correction is a weekend or when you have time off from work or commitments

If the dog is settling into this behaviour and accepting it. We can move on to changing the routine, we normally adopt when leaving for work/shopping etc.

Leave by another door, put coat on sometimes but do not go anywhere.

Do different routine to stop the dog building up anxiety and anticipation of the impending leaving, do not go through a repetitive preparation of going this will hype the dog up and go with no fuss or goodbyes…

  • On returning IGNORE the dog
  • At least for 10 to 15 mins .and always keep to this the time can be shortened but do not allow the dog to assume its role of greeting and fussing in its own time.
  •  Owner must choose time to send the correct message.

Look at Crate Training to use in this problem too


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