Dog Separation Anxiety – How to Treat It

Dog Separation Anxiety – How to Treat It

By Adrian Pascal

Does your dog cry, whine and bark incessantly when left alone at home? Does she urinate in the house while you are gone, even though she is housetrained? If so, then it is very likely that your dog has a behavioral problem know as dog separation anxiety. Other indications of this problem are if your dog does not like to be left alone either indoors or outdoors and she appears upset or excited when you are making preparations to go out.

Loki bundled up in a blanketThe above steps should cure a dog with mild separation anxiety. If the above does not help your dog then you will have to conduct a series of training sessions where by you desensetize your dog to your departure:

  • Make preparations to go out. Get dressed, put on your shoes, jacket etc. But, instead of leaving, sit down again. Do this till you see your dog does not get upset.
  • Get ready to go out, open the door, then close it and sit down again. Repeat till your dog is fine with you opening the door.
  • The next stage would be for you to actually step out of the door and come back in. Follow this by closing the door with you outside and then open it again¬†immediately.
  • The final stage is when you step outside the door and increase the time interval of you being out before you come back in again. All these steps have to be performed slowly over a period of days over even weeks.


Dog separation anxiety is not only very stressful on your dog, but it can have a major impact on you and your family. Fortunately, it is one of those dog behavior problems that can be resolved through a consistent approach of training and reinforcement.

Depending on the severity of the problem, there are a couple of different approaches that can help your dog overcome separation anxiety. For a dog with mild separation anxiety, the following should be sufficient:

  • Try to keep all your movements in and out of the house “low key”. When you return, your dog will greet you enthusiastically. Do not acknowledge her right away. Doing so will only reinforce her overly excited behavior. Pet her after a few minutes and only once she has calmed down.
  • Use dog obedience training, specifically the Sit, Down, Stay commands to condition your dog to being alone in a room. Command your dog to lie down and then tell her to “Stay” as you back away from her. First, increase your distance away from your dog and then step out of the room and out of her sight as you issue the “Stay” command. Start with only a few seconds and then slowly increase the time she does not see you.

Adrian Pascal has experience treating dog separation anxiety []. More information about his approach is available at his dog behavior problems [] website.

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