Why is my dog so sad when I leave? A Complete Guide

What is separation anxiety in dogs?

Separation anxiety is the name given to the distress some dogs feel when they’re alone, or away from a person or dog they’re close to. What’s more it can start as soon as puppies are removed from the litter. Remember those sleepless nights listening to your tiny puppy howling when you brought them home? Puppy separation anxiety. Regardless of their age, here’s how to create great habits and work towards a calmer, happer dog.

So, in sum: If you have a dog, the best time to train it to accept brief periods of isolation is when they’re a wee little puppy. Just, you know, try not to think of them shaking in utter terror, or them becoming infused with sorrow and doubt, as you close the front door on them for the very first time. It’s probably best to look forward to the cacophonous reception that invariably awaits you as you get back home.

It’s almost certain that their experiences of being left alone when they were very young have a huge influence on how they handle isolation when they’re older.Advertisement

The most common markers of painful isolation are “vocalizations” of protest and “destructive behavior”, but some signs are more subtle. Pacing and excessive salivation are also often markers of acute stress. They likely urinate on the floor as a way of relieving stress.

It’s trickier to reign in the habits of older dogs, but a similarly “gradual process of desensitization” could prove effective in the long run. Again, results may vary.Advertisement

“Dogs are social animals, so it is difficult to know for sure what they’re thinking when they’re left alone,” the CBWT add. Sadly, as they aren’t great conversationalists, we can’t ask them. It’s just not clear if they think we’ve abandoned them forever, or they’re just incredibly needy creatures. Some may not be fearful but merely bored without you providing them with entertainment.Advertisement

Keep Comings and Goings Uneventful

Many owners lavish their dogs with affection and attention right before you leave home and immediately when you walk in the door. Unfortunately, this can contribute to your dogs anxiety. To prevent this, the best thing you can do is to ignore your dog before you leave and for several minutes after your return. This is your way of demonstrating to your dog that your comings and goings are really no big deal.

Teach your dog that calm and patient behavior is rewarded. This means attention comes when they are settled and relaxed. If a dog engages in quiet behavior on its own (e.g. retreats to its bed or crate without instruction) it should be rewarded with attention or a treat.

For mild to moderate cases of separation anxiety, these small changes may be enough to reduce your dogs anxiety. In more severe cases, you will need to do some extra work.

Depression in dogs – Symptoms and What to Do

If your dog seems to worry when youre heading out, destroys stuff when you leave the house, follows you from room to room when youre home, goes berserk when you come back and seems to be eyeing you suspiciously even before you leave—you may be dealing with a case of separation anxiety.

Dogs with separation anxiety exhibit distress and behavior problems when theyre left alone. Some of the most common ways they do this:

Its not fully understood why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and others dont. But remember, your dogs behaviors are part of a panic response. Your dog isnt trying to punish you! They just want you to come home!