A Word About Canine Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is one of the more challenging behavior modification problems you can run across if your dog suffers from this terribly disturbing affliction. This is really tough on your dog, not to mention the stress it can cause you also, the dog owner.

Dealing with a dog that has separation anxiety is fundamentally very simple, yet it can be very time consuming for you if you have a dog with a higher degree of CSA. There are a lot of tricks that you can try to help out a dog with milder versions of separation problems, I’m not going to list them here because most dog training and behavior sites will have them for you.

Some of the things you will read on those sites will be beneficial to some degree for your dog, while other remedies will not have the desired effect you were hoping for.

A dog that has severe separation anxiety is not going to be fooled into thinking that you haven’t left your home, by any of the tricks that are taught on other sites.

  • Some of those tricks being stuffing some sort of toy with tender little treat morsels, so your dog will busy himself with, as you walk out the door.

The problem with this is, separation anxiety is a fear based behavior and a scared dog will not eat.

  • Another trick being, giving your dog an article of clothing that has your scent on it.

Unless your dog is being boarded somewhere else other than your home, this is probably not the best advice considering your scent is all over your home anyway. An article of your clothing is not going to be much help.

There’s lots of other little tidbits of advice like the two listed above that will help with mild to moderate forms of separation anxieties, so I hope you don’t dismiss these as ineffective methods.

What I’m hoping for is if you don’t have the desired results in relieving some of your dogs anxiety issues, you try another approach instead of throwing in the towel.

I’ll address what you can do if your dog has severe CSA in a future post.

The Spirit Dog

© Copyright 2009 a.s.papszycki

10 Responses

  1. Hello Maryann,

    Have you considered putting a leash on him, before your quests are leaving ?
    This is probably the simplest way of controlling him, so your quests can safely walk out the door.
    If you want behavior modification advice, I need to know, “under what circumstances, does he listen to you now” ?

    Thank you

  2. We got a Jack Russell Terrier from the shelter about 18 months ago. He is much less anxious than before but his one disturbing habit is nipping/biting lightly at guests as they are at the door leaving-sometimes he does it to my husband. Many times he will have shown little or no signs of not liking the person. What can we do to break the habit? Willing to try anything as we have quite a few guests in our home.

  3. Well, our family has had Maltese’s for years and I and my gf have Dino, the OES. Then she watches a lahsapoo and shizapoo which are always over when I’m there.

    The two mixes are her nieces, but they seem a little less attached to their master than Dino or my sister’s Maltese, Bailey. I work from home right now and take care of Bailey during the day, which at his age (11) means I watch him sit in his crate all day. He loves his crate. We leave the door open and he’s in there all day. It’s the open cage type.

    If I’m alone with Dino and my gf isn’t around, he’s good with me. If she comes home, he’s attached to her and I become chopped liver. Same with my sister’s dog.

    I’m working towards becoming a trainer, so I enjoy your site and all it’s information.


  4. Hello Bob,

    Although separation anxiety in dogs knows no gender, more times than not it will manifest itself with women as apposed to men. Only because women tend to spend more time with their pets than men do, which is a contributing factor with the development of separation anxieties in some dogs.

    Just curious, what kind of dogs do they have ?

  5. Forgot to add, all the dogs are males.

  6. Have you noticed this being a problem more with women or men? As in, does it happen more with one than the other?

    I know three women who own dogs. They have different lifestyles, as far as work and hours away from home, and their dogs are practically attached to them. If the masters (mistresses??) are even out of eye shot, they go bonkers.

    Just wondering your thoughts on this.


  7. Well, you will have me waiting with bated breath. This is the one issue that I have not been able to resolve with my pups. I agree, the tricks help only to a degree. And yes, it is apparent that it is fear based. It is not too bad anymore when I leave home. It is when I go further than ten feet away and one or both are left in the crate or car that they absolutely panic. A mild panic, but panic nonetheless.

    Both are shelter dogs and I assume the trauma of being simply LEFT in a strange and scary place by the family they loved (whether the feeling was mutual is highly debatable) made a powerful and lasting impression on them. They tust me in all else and will let me do all sorts of scary (to them) things without complaint. But deep down I don’t think they ever got over the idea that their family just caged them up and walked away. Both were owner surrenders.

    I have been dealing with this very, very, very slowly for the past two years. I won’t list all the things I have tried and then skipped as not helping. A few things do help. One of teh more recent is that I actually have started telling them how many hours I’m going to be one. “OK guys I’m going to be gone for one, two, three hours.” This has reduced the stress reaction when I come home. (Yes they can count.) If I go over I sure hear about it! lol

    So please don’t make us wait too long on this one!

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