Separation Anxiety: An All Too Common Dog Behavior Problem


The dog behavior disorder known as separation anxiety involves dogs displaying panic in the absence  of their owners, caretakers or another animal.  While many dogs exhibit  some degree of distress when their owners leave, dogs with separation  anxiety suffer the human equivalent of a panic attack due to fear and  anxiety about being left alone.  Separation anxiety is not just a case  of a dog being bored or not getting enough exercise.  Rather, it is a  serious and sometimes tragic disorder whose symptoms range from  obsessive following of owners, anorexia, sweaty paws and panting to  destruction of property, self-mutilation and constant barking or  howling.  No one knows exactly why some dogs develop separation anxiety.  Like most other behavior disorders, it results from the complex  interaction of environment, genetics and the attributes and history of  an individual dog. Environmental factors might include abandonment;  re-homing to a new family; moving to a new home with the same family;  sickness or malnutrition when a dog was a puppy; traumatic events; too  early removal from the litter; or too much and then too little attention  by a caregiver.

Whatever the causes, however, successfully resolving separation anxiety  requires a multimodal approach.  I address this disorder with  appropriate behavior modification, an inventive use of technology and a  robust support system for affected dog owners. The most severe cases  often require medication, and I will work closely with your veterinarian  to achieve the best possible outcome for your dog.  The approach I use  has proven successful in many cases and has helped both dogs and owners  achieve a better quality of life with each other. 

 As many as 20% of North American dogs suffer from separation anxiety, a staggering number by anyone's standards . . .