What are the Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Every dog that has separation anxiety exhibits different symptoms, and may have different triggers that set off their separation anxiety. The following are common signs that your dog has separation anxiety. These have been grouped into three categories:
While you are with the dog
Your dog or puppy needs to be with you: If your dog has separation anxiety, you may find that they always need to be in the same room as you, or within eyesight. If you make a move to another room, they will immediately get up to follow you. They are calmest when they are right next to you, and you aren’t moving. Some people call this behavior ‘Velcro-ing’ because the dog is ‘stuck’ to you. Clinically this is called ‘hyper-attachment’ and is a major identifier of separation anxiety in dogs.
Anxiety And Nervousness when you are getting ready to leave: Dogs are smart animals – your dog has probably figured out that you are going to leave by how you act before leaving the house. These leaving signals can trigger anxiety in your dog before you have even gone. For example, Scout used to run to the door when I picked up my keys and jingled them. He also knew that when I put on shoes or sandals, that I was getting ready to go. He would stand at the door and block me, to make sure I wasn’t leaving without him. Dogs will also pace back in forth, nervous that you are about to leave.
Chewing Items that smell like you: Dogs like to chew on your underwear and socks because they smell like youi. Make sure you pick up, and give the dogs other items to chew on.
While you are away
Barking and Whining: Your dog barking when you leave is a very common symptom of dog separation anxiety. Typically, your dog will show signs of anxiety, and begin whining or pacing before you leave. As the anxiety level increases, this may change to whining, then barking. These are not normal barks – your dog is having an anxiety attack because they think that you are not coming back and need to be with you. This is a huge problem with Condo and apartment tenants. Many cases of dogs returning to shelters are bec
Digging, Scratching, Chewing: The next level of separation anxiety is when a dog moves beyond barking and starts get physical. This type of scratching chewing and digging is an attempt to escape from the confines of the room, house, or yard so that they can find you. Some dogs will be in such a panic that they will rub their noses and paws completely raw, break through glass, tear down walls, and otherwise injure you or your property to get to you.
Destroying the House! Your dog may also get downright destructive. I have seen many couches ruined, carpets pulled up, and cabinets destroyed. This is a symptom of separation anxiety when these behaviors happen only when you are not present. A close friend had to reupholster a couch at a cost of $1500. If you don’t curb this behavior quickly, the costs can become enormous.
If you have a puppy, they may be teething and need a better variety of safe treats to chew on. If your dog is also destructive while you are home, they probably need more exercise, and stronger training regimen. You should also keep an eye on your dog so that you can correct the behavior while it is happening.
Peeing and Pooing around the House: Some dogs will go to the bathroom around the house when you leave. This is caused because they are so scared and anxious, that they lose control of their bowels and bladder. They are truly in a panic. Healthy adult dogs should be able to hold their bladder for at least 5 hours. Puppies typically can hold their bladder 1 hour for every month of age. You probably know your dogs routine, if this behavior is outside of normal, they most likely have separation anxiety!
When you return
Over Excitement: A common symptom of an anxious dog is that they when they see you again, they are excessively overjoyed. Scout used to run in circles around me, licking me for a few minutes until I made him lay on his bed. The greeting is not normal and calm, it is frantic and uncontrolled. Your dog thought you would never return, so they are not just saying ‘Hello’, they are expressing their relief at no longer being abandoned.
Not all dogs display these behaviors, some display mild symptoms such as whining, others will destroy a room that they are left in until you return. Separation anxiety is a serious condition and robs both you and your dog of a healthy relationship. I speak more about this in
How To Cure Dog Separation Anxiety
If you believe your dog has separation anxiety, I am here to help!