How to tell if your dog has separation anxiety

Be on the lookout for these 5 signs of separation anxiety below

Separation anxiety is unfortunately one of the most common behavioral issues seen in canines. Stress and fear both play a huge role in separation anxiety. Since we cannot verbally communicate with our dogs, they can become extremely worried of losing sight of their humans. They have no idea when we will be back to be with them, creating a possibility for a fearful outcome. Will they ever come back? Will they forget to feed me? Dogs who have been through traumatic experiences will go out of their way to seek comfort in their human, so being left alone is often the ultimate fear.

If your dog is overly attached to you, he or she may exhibit some undesirable behaviors that can be concerning. Make a note the next time you return home after a long day at work if any of these behaviors arise. It may be time to invest in a thundershirt and or a pet video camera to see the extent of these behaviors in order to correct them. We have to remember that dogs perceive time differently, especially if they are under stress.

Destructive Behavior

The destructive behavior can start as soon as the owner leaves or minutes after. Regardless, your dog may destroy your possessions or may scatter items sporadically around the house in a panic. Some breeds can even exhibit pica, where the dog eats these inedible items. This symptom of separation anxiety is dangerous and can cause dogs to break their teeth and cut their skin as well. Most of the time the dog may be destroying the door or things in it’s way, to escape to its owner due to extreme stress. Less severe levels of this behavior can happen out of boredom or teething, but don’t get these behaviors confused with the damage caused by separation anxiety.

Verbal Distress

Barking and whining are both common signs that the dog is very anxious after an owner leaves. The dog could continue calling out anywhere from minutes to hours. Not only is this extremely concerning for neighbors to hear, but the dog becomes more stressed out every minute they are verbally distressed. Some breeds are more verbal than others, so keep this in mind when watching a video of their behavior after you leave.

Accidents in the house

The accidents due to separation anxiety can be very messy and hard to clean up. These accidents are not caused by a small bladder, a UTI, or not being let out in time. These things should all be ruled out or taken care of before leaving the house. Dogs with separation anxiety usually have an accident in the house right after the owner leaves.


Drooling excessively may also be a sign of separation anxiety, which can occur even before the owner leaves the house. Dogs pick up on very subtle cues, so they understand that we are leaving when the keys and purse are being packed. The drooling can also happen at other times of extreme stress, like during a car ride. If you come back and there are pools of salvia on the ground, your dog is most likely stressed out by you leaving him or her.

Excessive Motor Activity

Instead of laying down, whining, and drooling, some dogs go absolutely insane. They can have a full-blown panic response, running and darting around the house without control. Some dogs may also pace in the same spot over and over. Both forms of excessive motor activity can be caused by separation anxiety if these behaviors happen after the owner leaves. In extreme cases, dogs can even damage their paw pads.

All of these signs of separation anxiety are dangerous and painful to watch over a video camera. It is sad when your presence is the only thing that calms your dog down. Just remember not to punish the dog after coming home to any of these signs. They do not have the ability to connect these events, so any punishment will be damaging your bond with them and can even make the symptoms of separation anxiety worse.

If you think that your dog may be experiencing extreme stress in the form of separation anxiety, please consult a behaviorist, trainer and/or vet. It is never too late to ask for help, and with patience and practice, your dog can live a happy life, even when you must leave their side.

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