Dealing with Dog Separation Anxiety

Dog Separation Anxiety is an issue that usually is diagnosed when a dog cannot function without another dog or owner being around. It’s common in households with 2 or more dogs. Jimi takes us through some examples along with tips on dealing with this problem.


Remember that separation anxiety is derived from a natural instinct when dogs are born and rely on their mother. Ideally, as the dog grows up and becomes more independent and confident, they rely less and less on their mother. If your dog has separation anxiety, it’s a sign that they are not quite confident with certain situations.

Examples of Dog Separation Anxiety:

  1. Dog refuses to leave owner’s side
  2. Dog hates when you leave the house to run an errand or go to work. May also bark and whine when you are leaving.
  3. Excessive salivation
  4. Decline of appetite


  1. Build patterns so they are predictable and your dog knows what’s going on. You want your dog to be comfortable and understand that when you or another dog leaves, they will come back.
  2. Crate training – use the crate as a safe spot. The dog should want to go in their crate and realize its a place to relax if they are feeling anxious.
  3. Train a place command on a mat or place cot. Place the dog, walk away for a short period of time and come back. Reward the dog when you come back. Build on this step by step – go to next room, go outside the house, go outside and turn the car on… work your way up to actually leaving and driving away.

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We’d love for you to share your dog separation anxiety experiences with us in the comments below. We do our best to answer every question posted![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]



  1. Wanda Hubbard January 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    My dog Max is 9 1/2 yr old Dashund that lost his house mate 3 yrs ago now and if I try to leave him alone in our apartment he has nearly gotten me kicked out with the barking and separation anxiety. Now I babysit for my son and his wife is allergic to dogs so I am not suppose to take him with me but it is very expensive to take him to doggie day care daily. He just wants or needs to be by my side all the time. I give him a lot of attention and do understand his loss when Heidi died. He was VERY upset when she died. He barks a lot and is quite aloof with other dogs not really wanting to play just be in control of the dogs in the dog park and is commonly called the “dog police”. He loves attention but if quite a emotional mess. Not friendly with other dogs, if given the opportunity he will run to another dog on the property and attack them which is NOT acceptable, no wonder he has no friends. I do not want to get another dog as I now live in an apartment. I take him with me when I do errands and he knows he waits in the car most of the time and prefers that to being left at home.

    • yourdogguru January 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Wanda, thanks for your comment. I wish there was a simple fix! I would tackle the separation anxiety first by starting crate training and slowly increasing the time Max is left in the crate. If you have access to a camcorder or smartphone, perhaps you could film Max so we can see how he reacts in the situations you described? From there we may be able to offer some additional things to try.

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  3. Ed Stone May 29, 2015 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    My dog…Aprox 3yrs old belgian malinois has been doing better. when younger he completely destroyed his crate. I ended up having to reinforce it with extra wire. Wire the door shut in six places and wire it to the floor so he couldn’t flip it…the holes on the bottom of the crate being bigger…If I don’t do this he will get out and then proceed to tear the wall apart where the catch from the door knob attaches…He knows where the door locks…if not locked he will open the door…he doesn’t destroy things..he loves to play stick but will not mess with the ones I carve on or even the wood for the fireplace…I let him destroy doodadoos aka paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls…and stuffy’s..he does not eat the stuffing…I believe a dog should have some things he is allowed to destroy/rip to shreds…Only three people at this point in time can have full loving and contact with him…my nephews fiance can tell him what to do/give him treats and has lived in the same house with him for months at a time. Will even bark and get excited when she comes home from work,he will even curle up on the couch next to her… She has only been allowed to pet him a little a couple times…he does fine as long as a person doesn’t “reach” for him…he has allowed a couple of other people to pet him….not full body lovings though…He is a rescue and I think someone has tried to snatch him…possibly connected? IDK…had a lot of dogs in my life…pit bulls..boxers..shepards…shih tzu chihuahua mixes…poodles..etc…He has real issues with children..though did fine when at christmas time we had four little ones in the house…as long as they didn’t go toward him…Never had to deal with this before…

  4. Ed Stone May 29, 2015 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    Bottom line he wants to be with me all the time. Separation issues. and a couple others but one at a time…sorry so long winded..and a little forgetful of the main reason for the post. He’s doing better around people. Will growl if someone reaches out. snap if they didn’t get the first message …On his terms only…frustrated

  5. crcantor April 29, 2018 at 11:03 am - Reply

    on the separation anxiety if we start short times in the crate what if he starts barking and shaking the crate?

    • Dog Guru April 29, 2018 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      First, make sure you have an appropriately sized crate. It should only be big enough so that the dog is able to stand up and turn around in. Many people go out and purchase the largest crate they can find with the assumption that more space is better, when in fact, more space can increase neurotic behaviors like barking or shaking. We also prefer plastic crates over the wire crates because the plastic crates provide a better sense of security, easier to move around, etc. If wire crate is the only option, then covering it with a towel or blanket is recommended. Second, if you know your dog has an issue in the crate, start by taking the door off (or prop it open) and feed all meals inside the crate. You can begin by tossing kibble in the front of the crate so that your dog only has to stick his head in to eat. After a few days of this, start tossing the kibble further back inside the crate so that he has to go all the way in. Once he’s comfortable with going into the crate, you can start feeding him by hand while he’s inside. Eventually you can close the door for a few seconds and then let him out and praise with food and play. From there, increase the duration the door is closed until you get to the point where you can exit the room. At this point if your dog barks, you should ignore it and not return into the room until there has been a good period of silence. Some other tips would be to move the crate to a more secluded and quiet room of the house. You can also play music in the background (we like Classical). The key here is taking very small steps and build your dog’s confidence in and around the crate. These are all things we go over in our online interactive training program, so if you’re looking for a step-by-step program, then you might want to give it a try! Happy Training!

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