Separation Anxiety – Why It Happens and How to Help Your Dog

What is Dog Separation Anxiety?

In some ways, dogs are like humans.

Like us, dogs like routine and often get stressed over large changes in their schedule. This is especially true for negative changes that they do not expect, and do not understand.

Dog separation anxiety usually occurs when our own schedule shifts, thereby disrupting the amount of time we are able to spend with our dogs. When faced with such disruptions, dogs may get stressed and become destructive.

A dog with separation anxiety may chew up household items, and urinate or defecate in the house.

Note that these are displacement behaviors, that occur as a result of stress. They are NOT the result of dominance, vengeance, or maliciousness.

To fix separation anxiety issues, we want to target and reduce our dog’s stress, and not punish him with physical corrections. Pain or dominance based punishment, will often increase stress, and thereby worsen our dog’s anxiety problems.

Dealing With Dog Separation Anxiety

Sadly, we will sometimes get busy, need to travel, or work long hours to meet a deadline. After all, we must go out in the wild world, so that we may put kibble on the table.

Therefore, how do we deal with separation anxiety, and make things better for our dogs?

Dog Separation Anxiety 1 – Daycare

One of the best ways to deal with schedule changes, is to put our dog in daycare. In this way, he gets the company of humans and dogs, while we are away. He also gets to brush up on his dog-to-dog, and dog-to-human socialization skills.

Before committing to a daycare center, it is important to drop by for a tour of the facilities. Ensure that the place is clean, well supervised, and suited to our dog’s temperament. However, even a well-run daycare center may sometimes fail to detect dogs that carry common ailments, such as kennel cough, puppy warts, demodectic mange, and fleas.

Therefore, make sure that our dog is up to date on his vaccinations, before putting him in daycare or boarding.

A dog who is up to date on shots, may still catch something from playing all day long with so many different dogs. This is especially true for puppies and younger dogs, who still have developing immune systems. Unfortunately, this is a risk we must accept, if we decide to put our dog in daycare.

Dog Separation Anxiety 2 – Pet sitter

If we are uncomfortable with sending our dog to a public daycare, we can also hire a pet sitter to keep his separation anxiety issues at bay. The sitter can walk him, and keep him company at home.

Make sure our pet sitter is insured, qualified, has good references, and most importantly, gets along well with our dog.

Although they may be more expensive, I try to find sitters who are also dog trainers. This means they have more experience with dog behavioral issues, and can better deal with a misbehaving, stressed, or fearful canine.

Make sure to give the pet sitter our cellphone number, the location of our vet, as well as special instructions for our dog, including allergies and important house rules.

Dog Separation Anxiety 3 – Try to keep to a schedule

Another way to alleviate separation anxiety issues, is to try and keep to a fixed schedule.

During holidays, go out and visit some friends, so that our dog has his usual alone time. If we have to be away unexpectedly, have a familiar friend come over to fill in for us.

If the change in routine is temporary, we can also have our dog stay over at a friend’s house. First, try bringing our dog over for several short visits. In this way, we are around to make introductions, and help him with the transition to a new environment.

If all goes well, do short stay-overs, then slowly lengthen the time.

Dog Separation Anxiety 4 – Exercise our dog

I take my dog out for a long walk before leaving. This will give him an opportunity to fully relieve himself outside, and also put him in a more restful state of mind.

I take my dog out for another walk, after I get home. Exercise helps to relieve stress, and gives our dog important mental and physical stimulation. Neighborhood walks also help to socialize our dog to a variety of people, objects, other dogs, and other animals.

If we had to stay cooped up in the house all day, we would get cabin fever as well.

Dog Separation Anxiety 5 – Desensitize our dog

Get our dog accustomed to us leaving the house.

First, I start with the ritual of getting my handbag and keys, as well as wearing my shoes. I walk to the door, then sit back down. I repeat this many times throughout the day, so that my dog gets comfortable with my “leaving the house” ritual.

Once this occurs, I walk to the door, leave, and come back to the room. I repeat this until he is relaxed again, then slowly lengthen the time that I am away.

When I achieve an away-time of about 15 minutes, I get in my car, circle the block, and come back.

Make leaving and coming home as low-key as possible.

When I return home, I ignore my dog until he is calm and resting. In this way, he does not spend all day anticipating my return. I also leave him with many interactive, chew-safe food toys, so that he has something interesting to do when home alone.

Dog Separation Anxiety 6 – Dog Medication

There are a variety of medications available, to help treat dog separation anxiety symptoms. However, to be effective, these medications must be used together with a behavior modification program, which includes a rigorous exercise and desensitization routine.

The medication alone will not solve our dog’s anxiety issues. However, it can help mute the symptoms, so that our dog can benefit from the accompanying retraining process.

Dog medication should only be used under the direction of a vet, and only for the short-term.

Dog Separation Anxiety

Dealing with dog separation anxiety will take time, and a lot of patience.

In general, prevention is better than cure. Therefore, we want to start desensitization exercises as early as possible, before any anxiety problems develop.

If we have a very busy lifestyle, consider volunteering at our local shelter or SPCA instead of buying a puppy.

Only get a dog when our schedule becomes more regular, so that there is less danger of separation anxiety, and other behavioral issues.

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  1. Sharlene says

    I have a 14 year old Rat Terrier (he is a rescue that we have had for almost 5 years) that has what I think is bad separation anxiety. My family had to go out of town for 4 days and we brought him to a sitter’s. When he got home after about 2 hours he pee’d on my bed. He does this every time we go away. When I go to work or take my kids out to ride bikes he will sit in front of the door and wait for me to return. Is there any way of breaking this habit ? Should I find an in home sitter instead ?

  2. james says

    I have a shiba mix. And we had a sitter that we trust watch hin for three days as we went out of town. Now he will not eat but plays and loves on us still.

  3. Kayleigh says

    Sorry just an add on to my comment , when we was at my mums if we needed to go out she would go in the cage and there would be no problem but we thought she was getting too old for the cage so haven’t brought it with us but I can’t use that as I would be gone too long for her to be in the cage , thankyou

  4. Kayleigh says

    Hi I have a ten month old lab, and have recently moved out in a flat my dog was use to being around my mums dog and my mum and her partner every day I wasn’t there so she’s never really been left alone, her separation issues have got worse I shut the front door for one minute and she was howling and barking the place down, even if I get in the bath and shut the door she’s scratching and crying even though my boyfriend is there, she’s also recently came on her first period so she has got very clingy just don’t know what to do as there will be days where no one can hae her while I’m at work, please help

    • shibashake says

      Moving to a new place can be very stressful for a dog. When we moved houses, I quickly set up a fixed schedule and routine for my dog, a consistent set of rules, supervised him more, and took him on longer walks in quiet hiking trails (something which he enjoys) so he can exercise and relax. In general, I want to create as much certainty as possible, make my dog feel safe, and give him positive outlets for his energy.

      As for separation anxiety, I start with very short periods of alone time and very slowly build up my dog’s tolerance. The more successful sessions my dog has, the more confidence he builds. Similarly, panic attacks and negative experiences will undermine that confidence and significantly set back training.

      Therefore, it is very important to keep things positive, especially during the rehabilitation period. If I cannot be home, then I get somebody that my dog trusts to be with him. To earn my dog’s trust, I feed him, play with him, walk him, and interact with him in other positive ways. I get others in the family to participate in these things as well, so that they can care for him when I am not around. Alternatively, I may drop him off at a place that he enjoys and is comfortable in (daycare, relatives, good friend).

      I talk more about what I do in the desensitization section of the article above. All of my dogs are spayed or neutered.

      there will be days where no one can hae her while I’m at work

      What about your mom? If things are currently too hectic, perhaps puppy can stay with your mom for a bit longer?

  5. Julia B says

    I have a dog that has serious anxiety and has a tendency to attack other dogs. He is on medication but due to this we keep him away from other dogs as much as possible. However we have a second dog (who he gets along with wonderfully) and we sometimes take her down to out local dog friendly beach. This means we have to leave our anxious dog at home and he freaks out whenever he is separated form her. Do you have any tips on how to calm him down for short periods of time?


    • shibashake says

      With my dog, I slowly get him used to alone time by starting small and going in very small steps. For example, I may start by just leaving the room, and then coming right back in. I keep repeating, until my dog is totally relaxed and comfortable with this. Then I *very slowly* increase the length of alone time.

      During the retraining process, I make sure never to expose my dog to more than he can handle. Having a panic attack would undermine his confidence and set back our training. I talk more about what I do in the desensitization section of the article above. Exercise, consistency, and a fixed routine also help to create more certainty and helps to reduce stress.

      These ASPCA articles have more information on separation anxiety-

  6. Maryam says

    Hi Shibashake,
    I recently went on a family holiday and left my gsd in a kennels…she enjoyed it very much and has shown no signs of distress. However, my aunt also boarded her 1 1/2 year old yorkie.
    Since she’s been home, shes been yelping, barking and howling most of the night. She has now also started doing her ‘ business ‘ everywhere inside the house (including the sofe ¬.¬ ).
    Please could you advise me on what is wrong with her and how to fix it.
    Thanks a lot.

    • shibashake says

      Based on what you describe it does sound like stress, but it is not possible to say for sure without looking at the dog, her environment, the kennel environment, routine, etc.

      How old is your GSD? What type of kennel was she at? Has she been to the same kennel before? Has she stayed in a kennel before? How long was she at the kennel? What is the routine like for the dogs at the kennel? Do the dogs each have their own area or do they have to share? What was she like when you picked her up? How is she with other dogs at regular times? How is she with other dogs now? Has anything else changed in her routine? Is she eating and drinking normally? Is she usually by herself at night? Does she only do her business in the house when she is alone? Does she only vocalize when she is alone? Does she do this during the day when she is alone? What is her regular routine like?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent. When my dog’s behavior changes, I first rule out physical issues. Then I try to identify where the behavior is coming from and what exactly triggers the behavior, e.g. time of day? being alone? being in a particular location?, etc. I do this by asking detailed questions of myself, similar to the ones I listed above.

      More on how I trouble-shoot undesirable behavior changes in my dog.

  7. Naomi says

    I have a siberian husky that is going nuts when I leave the house. I don’t leave very often as I don’t drive and I work at home. But I do work long hours so I can’t just do the do the desensitizing all the time. Maybe 2 days out of the week. Is there anything else I could do? Daycare and a sitter seems a little silly since I’m rarely out of the house. If I’m going to be gone for long, I get a friend to watch them or take them to the park. But 5 minutes out of the house, she goes nuts destroying everything.

  8. Aimee says

    My husband and I got this little terrier poodle mix on the first day she was ok nothing wrong but ever since then shes become a total nightmare!! We are a military family so we are stationary for a few years so moving Kant the issue we walk her first thingin the morning curbing tjr weekdays and at seven on the weekends. As of recent shes gotten worse with peeing in the house most times when we are there!!! I don’t work as I’m pregnant. And my husband doesn’t want me to but the stress of our dog is driving me nuts! I can go to check the mail and she will do batnut crazy barking crying and acting out. I left to go food shopping I was gone three hours at the Max I had taken her put shed done her duties and brought her back…. when I came home… omg I didn’t know what to do!!! Shes ripped apart my accepts letter into college tore up my husbands acus for work gone to the bathroom in her cage tore up her bedding. I let her out so I could clean the mess took her put before I started she went came inside and peed all over by shoes couch and bed!!!! She has only gotten worse in the two months of owning her we’ve tried leaving her with people but shes so hyper she hurts the kids and I’m scared when my baby is born she will be to rough with her or him :’( I love My dog shes a good girl but awedil potty habbits!!!!!!!

  9. Aditi says

    Hi, last friday we got a 9 month old cocker spaniel from a home. The owner said he had no time for him as they were travelling a lot. The dog also looked very weak and too quiet and timid. He is a lovely boy when we are with him, excellent with children and other dogs. We both work full time so our routine for the past two days (mon ans tues) has been, 5:30 am husband takes for wAlk, 6:15am food time, 6:45 to 7:30 am another walk.. Then i leave him home and go work. 11 to 12 the dog walker takes him out.. 3pm to when i return my lovely neighbour with a dog takes him to her place, the two dogs play and chill in the gArden.. He was fine on day 1 monday, he had scratched the door a bit and tried to open the cupboard with his food. In the evening, i come back at 6:30pm, feed him, walk him.. And ive been practicing ignoring him when i return. But tuesday was crazy! He ripped up the floor to floor carpet, broke a vase, dropped evrything from the window sill to the floor, pooped on the carpet.. I had thw dog walker take him for the wholw day then. What do u think is the best way to teach him that its ok to be alone, that ill come back. Will crate training help? If so how should i inteoduce him to it? Can i make him sleep in it overnight the very first time? What if he whines, i dont want him to associate the crate with punishment.. Please help me.. I dont want to give up without trying. I realise, this is how dogs get abandoned.. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba Inu, I start small and only *very slowly* build up his alone time. In this way, I make sure that he always has a positive experience and is successful. The more successes we have, the more confidence he gains, and the more comfortable he is with alone time. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, so it was also very important to make sure that he does not have any bad experiences or panic attacks. These will undermine his confidence and significantly set back training.

      As for crating, I think it really depends on the dog, and his past experiences with the crate. Some dogs may get even more anxious when confined in a crate, and some may even hurt themselves while trying to get out of the crate. More on what I do to crate train my dogs.

      This ASPCA article has more useful information on separation anxiety-

      When I was going through a difficult period with my Shiba, we also visited with several professional trainers. Dog behavior is very context dependent, therefore, it was helpful for us to have a good trainer come over, observe Sephy in his environment, and help us start on the right foot. It is not always easy to find a good trainer, so I also did a lot of reading on my own about dog behavior.

  10. Ceri says

    Hi, I have a 3 yr old chihuahua who I have had since a pup, I have moved around a lot and I haven’t ever had a problem with leaving her with anyone, until the past two weeks when I left her at home with my housemate for 3 days, she started refusing to go outside to pee and poo and also hasn’t eaten or drank much, until today she would do all three at least once a day but having left her over 24hrs ago she still hasn’t peed pooed drank or eaten and I’m worried. When I am there she is always sitting with my house mate and cuddling up with her but as soon as Ieave she doesn’t go near her! She is also really bad anyway with growling and going for people when she is in her bed even if I tell her off, so my house mate can’t even pick her up and take her outside, any help?

    • shibashake says

      when I left her at home with my housemate for 3 days

      So you were away for 3 days and she was with your housemate for those days? Did anything out of the ordinary happen during those 3 days? Did she eat or chew on anything she shouldn’t have during that time? Has she not wanted to eat before? Does she not want to eat anything – not even her favorite food? How is her energy level? Did you notice anything different with her pee and poop? Is she showing any other changes in behavior?

      When my dogs stop eating and drinking, I usually take them to the vet as soon as possible. Usually they keep to a very fixed routine, and they love eating boiled chicken. If they won’t eat that, then I know something is wrong.

      Hope she feels better soon. Let us know what the vet says.

  11. Hayley says

    I’ve got a 18month old jack russle and recently we had her spade and ever since then she has been pooing in the house when where not home. She did it last week when my dad went out and I was still in. Even the other day we where all out playing on the garden and my dog came in the house to poo. Any ideas to help my dog ?

    • shibashake says

      Was she fully potty trained before the spay surgery? How long had she gone without mistakes before the surgery? How long ago was the surgery? Has she gone back to her regular pre-surgery routine?

  12. Stephen says

    I raised my boxer from 8 weeks to where we are today with him almost 6 years old now. I’ve lived with my family this whole time going to school and going to work. Recently I took a vacation for two weeks while my family and my dog stayed behind, and while I was away he began pooping and peeing in the house. This vacation I took has landed me a new job about 2500 miles away and unfortunately I cannot take my dog with me. Is there anything I can do to help him for when I move?

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your new job.

      What seems to work well for my dogs is to help them build a bond with other members of the family. For example, I get somebody else to start doing the feeding, training, walking, etc.

      In the beginning, I make sure I am there for all of these activities, but I let the other family member take the lead. My presence helps to reassure my dog, but at the same time he starts to spend more time with others, and learns that they are also a source of food and fun.

      As my dog starts to gain more confidence, I very slowly reduce my time with him. For example, I may be there in the beginning of a training session, but then I may leave towards the end and so on. I want to slowly get him used to a routine where he starts to depend more on others, and less on me.

      In this way, if I get sick or need to go away, he will still be fine spending time with other family members, because he has established some trust and a bond with them.

  13. dragons49 says

    I have a almost year old pure bred English Lab. Recently I had to put down my older dog which they were used to each other. My other dog came everywhere with me because I am a shift worker at the hospital and he was used to being in the car with his bed and loved to travel. I started Apollo as soon as I got him and he would travel with the other dog. Now its become different the other dog is not in the car and I am finding him getting all excited in the car and barking. When I come out on my breaks and spend the time with him and take him for a walk and a pee and then he comes back to the car and sleeps. I have tried a few things calming chews, bring his toys from home.

    I am thinking of trying him with one of those thundershirts to see if that helps. I am not sure what to do I can’t do the daycare as we live in remote area and when I go into work its too early or too late for daycare.

  14. Paul says

    Hi, recently, in the last 4 weeks, my 5 year old cross has started to stress about going to bed. Previously we would say ‘bed time’ and off she would trot into her bed. Now she won’t move to her bed and starts shivering, goes into the kitchen and will hide under a table and not go near her bed. We leave her and close the door. The next morning she will be tucked up in bed, no shivering as if nothing has happened. I have just come down at 4am, same routine as other nights, shivering before bed, to find her happy in bed. After a few minutes she is up again shivering and not wanting to go back to bed. In the day time she is fine sleeping there. I work from home and I am with her nearly all of the time. Any ideas?

    • shibashake says

      When does she start shivering and going into the kitchen? Is it when you say “bed time”? If you skip saying “bed time” and just leave, does she get stressed? During the daytime, do you say “bed time”? If you do say “bed time” during the day, does she start getting stressed?

      When my dog shows signs of stress, I first try to identify was exactly is triggering the behavior. Is it time of day? It is a particular sound or phrase? What am I doing when the stress signals start to appear? What was my dog doing just before? What is happening outside – is there a particular sound? Did anything unusual happen when this behavior started to show – thunderstorms, loud noises, change in routine?

      Once I identify what the stress trigger is, then I can start to desensitize my dog toward it. Sometimes, there can be multiple stress triggers.

  15. Andrew says

    My 3 year old Labrador gets destructive or jumps on counters To eat food in the house during the day when we are at work. This does not happen every day but more often than not if anything is available to eat or destroy. She won’t do anything during the times we are in so corrective action is impossible. Do you think this is separation anxiety? Do you think having her in a cage for 6 hours on weekdays would be ok or make her worse? Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      It is not possible to tell without looking at the dog, her environment, routine, and surrounding context. Does she get stressed when you leave the room? Does she whine or scratch at the door? What is her daily routine like? Some people set up video cameras to tape their dog while they are gone, to see if the dog shows any stress behaviors.

      In terms of leaving yummy food unattended, I think most dogs will try to get at it. To prevent jumping on counters, I make sure I am around to supervise. If I am not around, I remove all temptation from open counters and store them in a safe area. Otherwise, my dog will learn that when I am not around, he can jump on counters and be rewarded with good stuff. The more good stuff he gets, the more likely he will repeat the behavior.

      As for crating, it depends a lot on the dog, how comfortable she is with the crate, how strong her anxiety is, etc. Some dogs with strong separation anxiety will do *all* that they can to escape from the crate, and often end up hurting themselves. There was this lovely Chow we met at the SPCA who lost several teeth and cut himself pretty badly, while trying to escape from his kennel to find his owner who had recently passed away.

      To help my dog with separation anxiety, I did desensitization exercises and made sure to exercise him well, both mentally and physically. I also try to socialize my dog to other people so that if I cannot be around, there are others who can step in and help take care of him, without him getting stressed-out.

  16. Kogi says

    Hi Shiba Shake!
    Kogi is a 5 month old Shiba Inu now and experiencing some separation anxiety – due to an unpredictable change in living arrangements, I have to leave him at home when I work night shifts which is stressful for my neighbors because he keeps them up at night.

    His behavior: He whines and whistles, occasionally barks and howls, off and on throughout the night (this is all according to my neighbors), I have witnessed him pacing a little bit and I’ve noticed that he chews the baby gate a little bit, but there’s no evidence that he does any other destructive behavior (escaping or destroying molding or doors)

    My behavior: I have been trying to desensitize him with short periods of time alone, however, my neighbors have been becoming less patient with his whining at night. I try to make exits and entrances not a big deal, and reward him only when he is calm and quiet. He’s enrolled in obedience classes to build his confidence, too.

    Have you ever tried D.A.P (dog appeasing pheromone) products? It was recommended to me by a friend but I wasn’t sure if it would be worth investing in. Also, how much of this is puppy behavior and at what point should I be worried that this will continue into his adulthood?

    Would appreciate your input!

    • shibashake says

      What I noticed with desensitization and counter conditioning is that during the *entire retraining period*, we want to try to keep our dog below threshold. If I leave my dog alone and he starts to get really anxious, that undoes my desensitization work because during that period he will associate alone time with stress and anxiety.

      For separation anxiety, I got a walker or pet sitter for my dog when I had to leave. In this way, he does not get stressed when I am gone, and in the meantime, I can slowly get him used to more and more alone time at a pace that he is comfortable with.

      Have you ever tried D.A.P (dog appeasing pheromone) products?

      I have not tried DAP. I think scent can be useful as an add-on (e.g. using it while doing desensitization may help) but I am not sure that it is a strong enough counter-stimulus when used by itself.

      Sephy had some separation anxiety when he was young. I mostly did desensitization exercises with him and he got over it after some time. I am a big believer of retraining problem behaviors early-on so that it does not escalate into something more as he matures. With Sephy, doing positive socialization exercises was also beneficial because it helped him to build confidence. The more confident he became, the less anxious he was during alone time.

      I also give him many outlets for his Shiba energy during the day. When he is more tired, he is more calm.

      I talk about a few more things that I did in the article above.

  17. AussieOwner says

    We have a 2 yr old Australian Shepherd. We have had her for a year, adopted from a rescue. She has come a long way and does well in the crate, entering easily on her own as we prepare the kong at night. She can be left alone for at least 5 hours well during the day and only needs simple reminders in the crate to sit and wait calmly until I unlock it. She is excited but controlled as she drops to the floor for her petting.

    The advice I am seeing online does not address public options for dealing with separation distress. Her separation distress occurs when we are in public and I need to walk away from her, even for a minute or two. No one else is adequate for her. She whines, jumps, pulls and basically loses her mind, even while she can still see me…..worse if I enter a building or am out of site. I am not sure how to help her in these situations (or the person left holding the leash). I cannot always carry a filled kong to produce when I need to use a restroom, etc. At a dog park, I needed to walk 15 feet away to dispose of her doggie bag. She came unglued and worked her way through the wide slots in the gate (they now have meshed it over because of this and I just drop her bag outside the gate until we leave and get it then). She could see me the entire time. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!!

    • shibashake says

      Two things that help with my dog -

      1. Socialize him well to other people
      Both my Huskies are good with other people, but my Shiba does not trust as easily. Therefore, I make sure to socialize him well to other people and make sure that his interactions with other people are always positive.

      How does your Aussie react to other people?

      With my Shiba, I start small and go slowly so that he builds confidence and learns to trust other people at his own pace. I do people desensitization exercises if necessary. In this way, I have people who can take care of him if I need to be away.

      2. Desensitization in public places
      I also did desensitization exercises with my Shiba in public places. We first start with a more quiet environment, and I get someone else to engage him in training while I am standing close by. I don’t give him any attention, eye-contact, or anything else during this time. If everything goes well, I move one step away, and we repeat.

      Once he is ok with me being farther away in a quiet area, then I can slowly increase the environmental challenge.

      More on desensitization and counter-conditioning-

    • AussieOwner says

      She is very friendly toward others and wants to meet everyone. She does have a squat submissive walk as she gets close, but she is pulling to get to them, wagging her stub tail the whole time. She knows she should sit or lie down and does so without command, but the excited wiggle is still brewing. Depends on the situation if she can maintain the down position during petting or if she pops up in excitement. More often she pops up. She has made tremendous progress with her submissive urination….that happens mostly only with unknown men now, and other dogs she is excited to play with.

      We take her as many places as we can. She does Dog 4H with my kids every week. In our home, she trains with my daughter well. It is outside walking with our kids or in 4H session she prefers to turn to me. She is highly excitable just heading in to 4H. During 4H it takes a while for her to settle in with my daughter working her. She wants to come to me so I have to avoid eye contact with her during this time. Part way through the session, she is more willing to comply with my daughter and then does well in her exercises, without keeping an eye on me until she returns to our seat. Leaving the room for training is no better. When walking with my daughter and I, with daughter holding the leash, dog still watches me for instruction, even if I have been silent. If I drop back to let daughter walk her and take command, dog turns to watch me instead. She does let my daughter take her out for a short walk ok.

      I will have my daughter train her outside with me present, and increase the distance from me. We will also try to do some of the people desensitization exercises to help her calm her excitability when seeing someone near.

  18. Terrylee says

    Hi there, we got a 5 year old German shepherd a few days ago, Th ppl we got him from had to go over sea so we adopted him, he has extreamly bad seperation anxiety, He crys, howls, and makes a whiseling noise and jumps at the doors, we cant even go to the bathroom with out him fallowing anf crying, this is the second time he has been re-homed, his first owners had hiim for 3 years and then the ppl we got him from had him not even a year. Could this be why? im worried i have to go out of ton for the day in 2 days, i am leaving him with my brother in law and fther in law but even whe with them hes crys, What should i do?

    Thanks so much for reading

  19. Alli says

    I live in oregon. I was visiting my old home where I grew up in California. On our way down there we picked up a puppy for my grandpa and grandma. She was 8 weeks old and she stayed in my lap for the rest of the 5 hours to get to my grandparents house, we got to the house and my whole family was there, cousins, aunts, and uncles for a whole week, I was the one who was always with Whitney, every second until she had to sleep. When they left I got to stay for another wee, just me. I was still with her every second. She knew where I slept so she whined at my door every morning to play with me. Then I had to go back home to oregon and it was very hard. She’s 5 months old now and I’m back for a weekend and I’m going to have to leave again and it’s going to be hard but at least it’s good to see her. Do you think she feels neglected? I read this article that if they feel sad that they will chew up things in the house and pee in the house. She does that and she still bites really hard. Do you think she forgets me when I leave to? She was only 8 weeks when I first left her do you think she remembers me, even when I have been away for 5 months? She seemed really happy when I got back but I don’t know if that’s just because she likes people. The only thing I’m happy about is she does love my franda so I know she’s happy I’m pretty sure.

    • shibashake says

      I think dogs *do* remember people they have bonded with, especially at an early age. My two Huskies still remember their breeder, and every time she (Kelly) comes over, they get really excited. They like meeting people, but they go into a whole new level of excited for Kelly. :D

      In terms of peeing, has your puppy been house-trained? Dogs do not know what our human rules are, so it is up to us to teach them what things are acceptable to us and what is not. The same is true for biting. Dogs have much thicker skins than we do, so we need to teach them to be very careful when interacting with people (who have much thinner skins) and to control the force of their bites (bite inhibition).

      A good professional trainer can help us with many of these things-

      Here is more on how I trained my puppy and how dogs learn.

      Big hugs to your puppy girl!

  20. Cara says

    I have a one year old bearded collie cross, which
    I have had for three months now. I have house trained him, although once we leave for the day, or go to bed at night and leave him in the kitchen he paces,whines,cries,chews and scratches my doors, as well as using everywhere as a toilet. I have been trying the behaviour techniques to ease his anxiety, is there anything else I can do? I can’t understand how he is so well behaved while we are there but like a completely different dog once left alone.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, anxiety can be difficult to deal with and can cause big changes in behavior. I think that it is especially difficult for our dogs because they have so little control over their environment and routine, and do not speak the same language as their caretakers.

      Some things that help with my dogs in terms of anxiety-
      1. I try to create as much certainty as possible.
      I set up a very fixed routine and a consistent set of house rules so that they know exactly what to expect from me and what I expect from them. The more certainty they have, the less there is to be stressed or anxious about.

      2. I slowly build my dog’s confidence.
      I slowly get my dog comfortable with alone time. I also do positive socialization exercises with him and engage him in various activities that he enjoys. The more successes he has, the more confident he becomes. The opposite is also true, so I make sure to prevent anxiety attacks, because they will undermine his confidence and set back his training. At night, I have a crate in my bedroom, so that my dog can sleep in there if he wants.

      3. Redirect my dog’s energy.
      Positive exercise and activity also helps a lot with my dog’s stress. When we moved houses, my Shiba got a bit stressed from all the changes, so I increased his daily exercise and took him on long, quiet walks in nearby trails. It gave him an outlet to release his stress, it gave him something fun and distracting to do, and it also helped him get used to his new environment in a positive way.

      More on dog anxiety.

  21. katrina says

    I have two dogs. A cross breed I got from a rescue home and a chihuhua. Theyre best friends as I got the chuhuaha, olly from 8 weeks the same day I got the larger dog,, charlie. Theyre both housetrained and havent done anything in the house forr 7 months… My partner recently moved to br closer to work and comes back 3 days a week. But charlie has started urinating in the house, whilst the back doors open but looking at me whilst he does it. Its so frustratiing. I lock him in the garden whilst I clean it up because he can open the door but hes doing it more regularly. I love him to bits and I want to work with him to cope butiI dont know what to do anymore..

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, two things come to mind.

      1. Physical issue
      Sometimes, the peeing can be from a physical issue, e.g. urinary tract infection or something else. Have you noticed any other changes with Charlie? Is he peeing more? How is his energy level? Does his pee look clear? Is he eating and drinking normally? When was his last vet visit?

      2. Changes in routine and stress
      Before your partner moved, was he with the dogs most of the day? How have things changed for the dogs since the move? What was their routine like before the move, and what is their routine like now?

      My Shiba Inu really needs a fixed and consistent routine. When there are large changes in his normal schedule, he gets stressed, which may cause changes in behavior. More on dog anxiety and what I do.

      When something like this happens with one of my dogs, I usually try to rule out physical issues first, with a vet visit if necessary. Once I am sure it is not a physical condition, I try to identify the trigger (e.g. stress) that is causing the change in behavior.

      I look at how things have changed (before and after), I look at common context (for example, does Charlie only make mistakes at a certain time of day?, when your partner is not around?), and I observe my dog very closely for other changes in behavior. The more I understand about the trigger and surrounding conditions, the better I am able to manage my dog and reorganize his schedule, environment, and more, so that he can better cope with his current situation.

      Getting fresh eyes on the situation can also be helpful, e.g. a good professional trainer.

  22. Anonymous says

    I have a Labrador dog 5 yrs old.she is not doing potty for 20 days.she is vomiting whatever she eats.what to do.what should i do to make her do potty otherwise it will be a problem. plz guys help me. plz plz plz frnds suggest me sumthing as soon as possible.

    thank you

    • shibashake says

      If my dog showed such symptoms, I would take her to the vet or pet emergency room as soon as possible.

  23. dot hargadon says

    hii can you help we have just got a pattedale dog 10 months old he is good but when I leave him in lounge with my husband to go into bedroom he goes grazy at the door please can you help thanks mrs hargadon

    • shibashake says

      Some things that helped with my dog in terms of separation anxiety-
      1. I start with very short sessions of alone time, and *very slowly* train him to tolerate more and more. I talk more about this “desensitization process”, and what I did with my dog in the article above.

      2. I get everyone in the family to participate in my dog’s feeding, care, and exercise. In this way, my dog learns to trust everyone in the household, builds more confidence, and is able to relax with and rely on more people. This also helps to reduce unhealthy people guarding behavior.

      3. I do safe and positive socialization exercises with my dog to help him build confidence with new people, new objects, and more.

      Note that dog behavior is very context dependent, and each dog is different. I consulted with several professional trainers to address my dog’s behavioral issues, and it was very helpful.

      This article from the ASPCA has more information on dealing with separation anxiety-

  24. Liz says


    I’ve been looking after a small mix breed dog for my friend for a few days and I’ll have her for another week.

    I’ve known this dog since she was a puppy and she’s always been good with me.

    I work from home so she hasn’t been alone for more than a few hours but she constantly shakes and whines and sits at the door. She attempts to throw up her food and has been pooping inside although she’s a house dog.

    Is there any tips to make her stay with me easier for this old girl?

    • shibashake says

      How old is she? Does she act like this when home alone at your friend’s place? Does she only poop in the house when alone? Does she only throw up when alone? Did the behavior start as soon as your friend left?

      When there are large and unexpected changes in behavior, it could sometimes be because of a physical issue. Does she have any recurring physical issues? I would talk with her vet and your friend to make sure everything is ok on the physical side.

  25. Chris says

    Hi, I hae a 4 year old Staffordshire Bull terrier. He is a wonderfull dog and has always had a excellent temper. We went on our first family holiday since we had him two weeks ago. Alfie stayed with my inlaws who he sees on a very regular basis. He has even spent the night there on a few occasions. But since we returned he seems different, he seems very wary of me in particular. And he somtimes growls when I try and play with him. Is there anything I can do to get the dog back we left two weeks ago or do we just give him time?

    • shibashake says

      How long did he stay with the inlaws? How long has he been showing this behavior? Did anything unusual happen at your inlaw’s place? What type of activities did he do while over there? Do they have other dogs? What other behavior changes have you noticed in addition to the growling? Is he eating and drinking normally? Is his energy level normal? Does he seem more protective of food and other items?

      If you have his favorite food, does he try to approach you on his own? Has he approached you on his own for affection or play? Does he also seem wary of other men?

      There could be many reasons for the changes in behavior you describe. It is difficult to say without knowing the temperament of the dog, his routine, and surrounding context. It may be useful to consult with a good professional trainer who can visit, observe, and read body language.

  26. Aliyah says

    Hi, I have a Siberian Husky who’s turning 2 years old on December 28. I’ve had her since she was a month old and I guess I’ve spoilt her by constantly being with her, letting her sleep on my bed (now i cant even sleep without her beside me). and its my fault for her getting stressed out when we’re apart. Till she was 6 months I’d constantly take her out a lot by the beach till one night there were lots of fireworks that really startled her to never wanting to go near “bright” lights or loud noises… So now I take her out at 5 am around the area for some fresh air and later on at night. I’m going to college soon (not a dorm… Ill be going to classes and coming back home which will be about 6-7 hours?) and Mishka (my husky), gets really destructive she starts chewing the main door wanting to leave. She isn’t alone at home I’ve got 6 cats that she plays a lot with and her eating habits are fine and all that. I just don’t get why she won’t calm down with the door chewing. I got her a crate and she sits there throughout the day chewing doggie bones without the door closed; so she likes staying in there without me telling her to. But when I leave the house and come back I find her in the cage with torn blankets inside and the cage wires all twisted from being chewed. Why does she keep doing this? I go out just for a couple of hours and that’s AFTER being with her the whole time. So I do give her a lot of attention. I don’t know what to do, I’m worried about her I really don’t want her to do this to herself… She loves me a lot though I never treated her badly, she only listens to me and not anyone else; oh and I’ve sent her to a dog kennel, that’s when I need to be out of town for a few days and she plays well there, she even has a few dog friends. My mum just told me that by the time Mishka gets puppies shell start to mature and calm down…

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, separation anxiety can occur because of over-bonding. I am very close to my Husky Shania, but I also try to positively socialize her to other people, and teach her to trust them. My neighbors know her well, and they feed her cookies and give her affection, so she has many friends nearby. In this way, if I need to be away, there are other people that she trusts, who are can step in and properly care for her.

      Note that separation anxiety commonly occurs because our dog is separated from his primary caregiver. Therefore, even dogs who live with other dogs can become anxious when their people leave. There are some examples of this in the comments section below.

      There are also examples of older dogs who have developed separation anxiety.

      What has helped with my dog is to do desensitization exercises, and to slowly teach him to tolerate alone time. I start with very short periods of alone time (seconds in the beginning), pair it with positive experiences, and slowly build up from there. The more successful ‘alone’ sessions Sephy has, the more confidence he builds, and the less anxious he gets. The more anxiety attacks he gets, the more frantic he becomes, and the more anxious he will be the next time he is left alone.

      Promote independence by teaching the dog to down-stay on his own bed while you go out of sight. Start with a few seconds, then build up to a length of time the dog can tolerate. Put up a gate and eventually close a door between the two of you. And, get family members involved in dispensing the “good stuff” to the dog. Walks, play sessions and feedings should not be provided by only one person, for that person’s absence means the end of all that is good in the world to the dog. Panic can ensue. If you live alone, perhaps a neighbor or relative will share the duties, or hire a pet-care professional to assist you.

      Crating. Your dog will still engage in anxiety responses inside a crate, and he may urinate, defecate, howl, or even injure himself in an attempt to escape.
      ~~[Humane Society of the United States]

      This article from the ASPCA also has a lot of useful information on separation anxiety and how to help our dog become less anxious.

      Another useful article on separation anxiety from UC Davis.

      Consulting with a good professional trainer can also be helpful.

      Big hugs to Mishka.

  27. Marge says

    Our 7yr old black lab, has started to be destructive in our home ever since our last trip. We had dog sitters stay in home with her and our 13 yr old lab/chow mix dog. She will ok some days and bad others. We will have to start crating her (which my husband does not like to do!). Is there any suggestions to get her back on track. We have frozen her kong to give her more time chewing on it and getting the peanut butter, we leave toys for her to play.
    We have traveled on the past and have never had these problems.

    • shibashake says

      Did something happen at home during your last trip? What did the pet sitter say? Do the dogs know the pet sitter well and get along well with her?

      Following are some common scenarios that can trigger separation anxiety:

      - A dog accustomed to constant human companionship is left alone for the first time.
      - A dog suffers a traumatic event (from his viewpoint), such as time at a shelter or boarding kennel.
      - There’s a change in the family’s routine or structure or the loss of a family member or other pet.
      ~~[The Humane Society of the United States]

      With my Shiba Inu, what helped most with his separation anxiety is to do desensitization exercises. I start with very short amounts of alone time and very slowly build up his tolerance. I also set up a fixed schedule and make sure to exercise him well every day so that he has a release for his stressful energy.

      The key to desensitization is to help our dog better cope with his fears, help him build confidence, and help him reassociate being alone with something positive. The more successful alone time Sephy had, the more confident and less anxious he became. The opposite is also true. Therefore, during the desensitization process I make sure to properly manage the environment so that Sephy does not have more anxiety attacks, which will erode his confidence and make him more anxious. I talk more about what I did in the article above.

      As for crating, it would depend a lot on the dog. Some dogs may become even more anxious when confined in a crate, and may hurt themselves while trying to break out of their crate during a panic attack.

      Your dog will still engage in anxiety responses inside a crate, and he may urinate, defecate, howl, or even injure himself in an attempt to escape.
      ~~[The Humane Society of the United States]

      Crate training can be helpful for some dogs if they learn that the crate is their safe place to go when left alone. However, for other dogs, the crate can cause added stress and anxiety. In order to determine whether or not you should try using a crate, monitor your dog’s behavior during crate training and when he’s left in the crate while you’re home. If he shows signs of distress (heavy panting, excessive salivation, frantic escape attempts, persistent howling or barking), crate confinement isn’t the best option for him.

      This article from UC Davis also has some useful information on separation anxiety.

      For more serious cases of separation anxiety, I would consult with a professional trainer.

  28. Helen says

    My8 year old Chiuhuia does not eat for days after she comes back home from a few days at the sitter.
    Why is that?

    Thank You

    • shibashake says

      What does she eat at the sitter’s place? Does she go with her regular food or does she get something different? What is her reaction to the sitter? Does she like going there? Are there other dogs there? What type of training does the sitter use? How does she act when she comes back (other than loss of appetite)? Does she seem more anxious/fearful? What is the environment like at the sitter’s place? Is it very different from her home environment? What is her routine like?

      Loss of appetite could also be from a physical issue.

  29. Lisa looking for a kennel says

    My dog has picked up on my ritual so well that I’m not even sure what makes her go lay in her crate at a certain point. I used to have to crate my dog every day that I left for work, but really establishing a ritual helped. Thanks for your tips!

  30. Diana says

    Hi, we have a 4 year old bull terrier. We moved about a month ago to a new place, our old apartment had wood floors and the Dog used to shiver and walk really slow when we open the door to take him for a walk on the morning before work and after work in the afternoon. We tought it was the floor that was really slipery so we bought some carpets and the problem kind of went away but still happend when he walk around the house wille we were there.
    Now on the new house he stop doing it for the first 2 or 3 weeks no he is doing it again. Is like he is sacare of going out or walking in the house. But once he is outisede he is fine.
    He tried giving him treats at the door but this still dosnt work.

    • shibashake says

      Does he only shiver like that while walking in certain locations? For example, close to the door? Or does he do it everywhere?

      When did the shivering behavior start in the old apartment? Did anything unusual happen when you first noticed this behavior? Has he ever stepped on a scat mat/shock mat before?

      What is his routine like? What type of training is he used to? What training collars has he used?

      Sounds like he is fearful of something, likely caused by some past experience. However, it is difficult to tell what that “something” is without getting greater context of his background and surroundings. It may be useful to consult with a professional trainer, who can observe him in real-time, read his body language, as well as view his environment and routine.

      When my dog is anxious, the first thing that I do is try to identify the source of his anxiety/fear. To do this, I carefully consider my dog’s temperament, environment, routine, past experiences, and more. Once I know the source, I can come up with a plan to reduce stress triggers, and to help him better cope with his fear and stress.

  31. RainandPour says

    My Beagle started pooping in her kennel recently after I was forced to put down one of my other dogs. I know she loved her and misses her. I don’t know what to do… It has become an everyday thing. Her bed has been washed almost everyday since last Friday. Anyone have an idea about what I can do to help her stop?

    • shibashake says

      Sorry to hear about your other dog.

      Does your Bealgle only poop in her kennel when she is alone? What is her routine like? Has her routine changed significantly? Is she the only dog now?

      With my dog, I first try to identify the underlying issue. For example, is the behavior a result of stress from being alone? stress from changes in routine and environment? some physical issue? or something else?

      Once I identify the underlying issue and source of stress, I can come up with a plan to reduce that stress and help her better cope with it. But first, I need to understand where the behavior is coming from.

      Getting a good professional trainer to visit can also be helpful in identifying the source of the problem, and in coming up with a plan for helping our dog.

  32. Sarah says

    Hi, new reader here with an interesting situation. My dog (we think he’s a German Shepherd Terrier mix – shelter dog) has always had a bit of separation anxiety (we crate him when we leave the house, he has grown to calm a short while after he’s in it).

    However, my daily schedule has changed, I now work from home and as a result I’m here all the time. The crating is not as frequent. Something he started doing in the past week or so….is pooping in the house. Never had this before, mind you. I think it’s a lack of structure, high anxiety and I’m not sure how to rectify. Previously, he was fine in the crate, no accidents. I’m not sure how to help him.

    • shibashake says

      When there are large changes in my dog’s routine -
      1. I reintroduce consistency back into the equation by setting up a fixed routine and a consistent set of rules.
      2. I increase the amount of daily exercise so that he has an outlet for his stress.

      For pooping in the house, I go back to potty training basics. I supervise at all times that my dog is roaming free and put him in an enclosure at other times. In this way, I can catch all potty mistakes, interrupt, and show him the right behavior. I always go outside with him so that I can reward him *very well* for doing his potty outside. I make a big deal out of it, play his favorite game, and reward him with attention and treats.

      In this way, he learns that -
      Potty outside = A bonanza of games, attention, food, and other rewards.
      Potty inside = Get interrupted and taken outside.

  33. Dianna says

    I have a 4 month old Cocker Spaniel. He is just fine with sleeping in his crate at night, as it’s next to our bed. However, when we put him in his crate to leave for work he starts barking and whining. I am worried! He doesn’t fear his crate, he hops right in but this has to be separation anxiety.

    I think he might have an unhealtht attachment to me also. He wimpers and whines when he isn’t sure where I am.

    I’m not sure what to do. I have read on many site to let your dog out of the crate when he calms down… I don’t think I can do that because he needs to go out to do his business. Any thoughts?


    • shibashake says

      Yeah, potty training makes things a bit more complex.

      This is what I did with Sibe Lara -
      1. I make sure she goes potty before going into her enclosure for nap time. If she fusses right after she gets in, I know that she doesn’t really need to go.
      2. I set up a fixed and consistent schedule for her. She sleeps for a couple of hours, then I let her out and she goes out for another potty break.
      3. If she whines in the middle, then I take her out on-leash. We go to our potty spot and I give her the go potty command. If she goes, then I reward her well with attention and a fun game. If she doesn’t go, I wait a few minutes, then she goes back into her enclosure. In this way, she gets a chance to potty, but she learns that a “fake potty trip” is not very interesting. She only gets rewarded for a real potty trip.

      Here is more of my potty training experiences with my Husky pups.

      Big hugs to your new puppy.

  34. Melissa says

    My 11 month old Labradane starts shaking and panting really bad when we take her to the vet and doggie daycare. Could this be separation anxiety or something I should be concerned with? She seems to be ok once we get there and seems to really enjoy it. I don’t think it is any type of medical condition since it only happens when we take her there.

    • shibashake says

      Does she only do this when she is in the car? Many dogs get anxious in the car because it is a confined space that moves. Desensitization exercises can be used to help a dog get more comfortable with being in a car.

  35. Christina says

    Hi! I love your site and all the information and advice you offer.

    I have a 4 year old female husky that we just got 3 months ago (she was a friend of ours who couldn’t keep her anymore, she went through 2 other homes before she came to us). When we first got her she had a few accidents in the house, but then she was fine. We take her on lots of walks when we are home and she has no problem telling us when she needs to go outside. My bf plays with her all the time and we give her so much attention.

    Recently she has been peeing in the house sometimes when we come home and then leave again for a few hours (to go to the gym, food store, etc.) and other times she is fine. We always make sure she has toys or bones to keep her busy. With her prior owner she used to chew and eat everything she could get her paws on, but never had accidents (they didn’t walk her or have the time for her). She has not ate/chewed anything with us, but is randomly peeing in the house. I assume it is some sort of anxiety or she is mad that we are “leaving her”, but I don’t understand why she does it sometimes and not everytime. I know she is trying to get used to us and it is a new environment, so I want to give her time to adjust, but I also want to make sure I’m doing the right things now. Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated! Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, based on what you describe, it does sound like anxiety to me.

      Does she ever pee in the house when you are home?

      When you take her on walks, what is her confidence level? Is she afraid of noises, people, new objects, other dogs?

      Some things that help with my dogs when they are anxious because of changes in the environment-
      1. I set up a very fixed routine for them. In this way, they know exactly when I leave, and when I will return. They also know exactly when walk time, play time, grooming time, and mostly importantly eating time is.
      2. I establish very fixed rules. In this way they know exactly what to expect from me, and what I expect of them in return.
      3. I exercise them well every day. Exercise helps them to relieve stress.
      4. When we are home, I try to give them their space. I think it helps them to have some alone time to get used to the changes in their environment. In the beginning, I let them approach me when they want to interact.

    • Christina says

      Actually last night when I was home alone and in the shower after I just took her for a long walk she peed in the house! She has only gone in the house a few times when we have been home and that was when we first got her and last week 2-3 mornings I was waking up to her having gone in the middle of the night. I started taking her water away at night and she has been fine until last night.

      She is good on walks. She loves everyone and wants everyone’s attention! And she is pretty good with most dogs. Once in a while she will jump from a loud noise, but she usually isn’t scared.

      Thank you for your tips. I am trying to get her on a fixed routine and I need to get better at that. She has set times for meals and walks (sometimes more walks on the weekends when we are home from work). She gets good exercise daily. It is a little hard to keep her on a strict schedule because mine is always slightly changing, but I know I will have to try to get better at it. Thank you for your help! I really appreciate it!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Christina,

      If she is peeing in the house at night and when you are home, it could just be that she does not know she is not supposed to. Dogs do not usually generalize rules across different locations. For example, my dogs are all potty trained for our current house, but when we go to daycare, they may sometimes pee indoors, especially if there are strong smells around.

      They know not to do it in our house, but they may not generalize that to other indoor areas.

      It could be that a quick potty training refresher course would do the trick.

      Big hugs to your girl!

  36. Øyvind says

    We have two dogs in the house, one is about 10-11 years old and the other is about 4 years. They coexist reasonably well together, aside form the occational challenge of the alpha title.

    However when my mother fell ill and died he became very anxious. As long as my father is around he’s calm but always keeps close.
    However when he needs for exsample to go out and get groceries and/or visit some friends, he becomes very scared. He starts to rattle teeth, shiver, often when we get home theres chewing and scratching marks on the door.
    Now we’re well aware that its separation anxiety and he’s most likely scared that we too will “disappear” Question is, would it help to show him the grave?
    We’re very unsure how to proceed as he’s an older gentleman after all.

    Also whenever we’ve attempted to bring him with us to shop, he starts to half way howl and make high picthed noises. In other words, not a fan of car rides.

    Hope you can give us some helpful advice, Thanks in advance.

    • shibashake says

      This is not a situation that I have firsthand experience with, so I am not sure how much help I can be.

      - What has helped most with my dogs when they are anxious, is to keep them as close as possible to a regular routine.
      - My dogs also pick up on the energy of the people around them, so if they sense that I am stressed, they will get stressed as well. I try as much as possible to control my own energy and remain calm.
      - Exercise or just doing some activity to distract their mind also helps. Sometimes I just take them outside and let them sit, watch people, and smell the wind. I make sure to pick a more quiet area.

      This article may also be of some interest-

  37. Carissa says

    I have a 4 yr old Pomerania/chihuahua mix with sever seperation anxiety. I just recently moved in with my boyfriend and it has gotten increasingly worse. We work different schedules and she barks for a while after I leave and typically wakes him up. She won’t let him take her out or if she does becomes very aggressive when he tries to take her leash off. Once he leaves the barking starts again and we are now getting complaints from the neighbors. I have tried to desenseitize her to my leaving and she is also on anti-depressants and tranquilizers. She is aggressive towards people and dogs she doesn’t know, just yesterday she tried to go after a husky in our building, the owner didn’t appercaite that very much. She is crate trained so she gets crated when we’re not home and when we’re sleeping with toys and chews but it only helps a little. I don’t know what to do with her anymore. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      It sounds like a difficult situation with many different factors involved. For example, it is unclear if the aggressive behavior is from fear, anxiety, effects of the medication, or something else.

      In addition, dogs, like us, get anxious when there are big changes to their routine and environment. When I moved, my Shiba (Sephy) also got anxious and a bit stressed. I quickly re-established a fixed routine for him, as well as a fixed structure and rules in the new place. Exercise is also a good stress outlet for Sephy, so I would take him on longer walks in very quiet, low-stress hiking trails.

      Given the complexity of the situation, it may be best to get help from a good dog trainer/behaviorist. A professional trainer can observe the dog in his environment, read body language, and identify what are the key sources of stress. Then, we can teach our dog alternate ways for dealing with his stress, as well as carefully manage his environment and we reduce the number of stressors.

      Dog anxiety problems.
      Dealing with a fearful dog.

  38. Tammy says


    Love the site/blog.
    Lots of good tips. Some I use already.
    I adopted a 1 year old dog (shih-tzu/pom)- male (not fixed yet).
    The people that had him before had always 5 or 6 dogs, several children & a super busy household.
    When I arrived at the house to pick up doggie – it was an explosion of dogs barking, kids screaming & adults yelling blue murder. Yay! Nice calm setting…. LOL!

    This dog was babied to the point where it even sat on the owner’s lap (not to eat the food off the plate, just to be glued to owner) while they were eating, always carried him around like a baby & generally always had to be in the owner’s face. Constantly glued to them. Even while doing washroom tasks.
    They even told me I could never leave – even for a few minutes.
    OK – I didn’t clue in. I am a first time dog owner (but have grown up around dogs all my life & leaving for shopping etc was never a problem)
    Of course he was happy when we got back but was normal happy. Not frenzied flying panting swirling blur of fur.
    OK – I live alone & *someone* has to go get the kibble ..
    It is summer so can’t leave the dog in the car while I wait in line at the super market for 45 minutes to pay for my loaf of bread while the temp in the car climbs to 120 degrees C.
    I can’t always rely on calling someone to come babysit the dog & let it lick them to death steady so it does not go wacko. I don’t just trust anyone in my home alone.
    I guess I could hire someone for 20 bucks or whatever the fee is so I can go spend 2 bucks on a loaf of bread… (this could get expensive especially since I like fresh food & not canned mush so go to the store several times a week)

    And besides when they do come over, they encourage his excitement with immediate massive praise, affection as soon as they get in the door cus they think the jumping/barking is cute). (I think this just makes things worse) rather than waiting a few minutes for the dog to calm down for a few minutes then pet, play, whatever when he is in a state of mind to be able to listed to me.
    I work from home so I am there most of the time.
    I live alone and no other pets so it is a HUGE environment change for him.
    My schedule can’t always be perfect – I work from home and sometimes business is different hours.

    If I leave for <5 minutes – upon return he is a spinning train-wreck of major hyperness. (I am talking about taking the garbage to the curb here – not a trip to the beach for the day without him)
    Even if I just walk around the house & return.
    I walk him about 2 hours a day (spread out over a few sessions), has plenty of toys.
    I surprise him once in a while with treats but don't treat train him.

    He too has separation anxiety. (obviously)
    When I get back, he is drooling/panting out of control, spinning/jumping like mad, yelping, and so on for about 15 minutes before he can even respond to anything that resembles down, sit, stay, shush, etc.
    I try to not respond at all to him until he calms down. Once he can stay still for a few minutes & sit on command then I praise/pet him & so on.
    I want to try & associate the praise related to him sitting/staying rather than "I missed you soooooooo much" lol.
    The previous owners let him bark like mad non stop, jump, claw, etc when anyone ever come over, ever met up with another dog while on walks and so on.
    To top that off, a friend of mine come over with their dog & gave him a dose of the fleas. (yay! more stress!)
    Of course the dog is super sensitive to them & scratches bad. (this is nearly cleared up through aggressive flea control & anti-itch treatments)

    Looks like I sure got my work cut out for me huh. LOL!

    I work from home on the computer providing remote support & am on the telephone (support also) for an antivirus company. I can't jump up & go play with doggie every time it wimpers or I would no longer have a job.
    Because the previous owners constantly attended/paid attention to its every wimper or whenever it even moved a muscle – I feel this is what is slowing my progress on training, behaviour modification, separation anxiety resolution. (because I am not letting it in my face steady steady like he is used to)
    I live in a small town where there are no behaviour modification services, dog shrinks, qualified trainers (anyone can teach a dog to sit if you shove enough treats at it)
    I can't exactly quit my job or take a month off work to "fix" the dog – it will only start all over again on return to work stuff.
    I believe I can do this without having to spend 5000$ to get the dog whisperer here. lol.

    Anyway – I hope I am doing the right thing by giving it lots of exercise & play time, social time, etc.
    I don't want to drug it to 'make' it calm… I wan't it to learn that being calm is normal & me having to take off for an hour to get kibble is not the end of the world so no need to lose it. lol.

    What is your opinion on dogs marking everything they come across on walks?
    I realize this is marking territory and so on.
    I read some sites where allowing him to do this basically gives him the idea he is alpha (even over me) and I shouldn't let him do it while on walks.
    Other sites say to let them mark whatever they want otherwise it is frustrating to them.
    Walking the dog & stopping every 3 meters to let him mark is not exactly fun. It feels more like he is taking me out on a p p tour. (he is still over excited when we get home)
    I have been on walks where I let him & its constant pulling on the leash, losing it when he sees other people, dogs, etc.
    I have been on walks where I keep the leash short with gentle corrections when he tries pulling ahead & it is amazing the difference. We actually get a good workout & he happily falls asleep when we get in.
    He also seems less distracted by other people, dogs, etc this way rather than charging ahead like a wild bull (trying) to drag me. LOL!

    Anyway – hoping I am making progress here & hope he improves.
    I've always said I love a challenge — well I sure got it! :)
    Hope some got a chuckle & hope post was not too long.



    • Tammy says

      Hi again –
      Just thought I would quick update things a bit.
      Over the last few days I have seen a huge difference in my dog’s behaviour.
      Last week I would not be able to walk him down the street past someone without him spazzing out with over-excitement.
      Now I can walk past people, greet them and so on & all it takes is a gentle “down” command to stop him from jumping etc. (this includes people on bikes, noisy skateboards, walking alone, with strollers, etc)
      Not much reaction either when meeting someone else with a dog. I have not reached the confidence in ME yet not to anticipate issues but that is coming soon. I just have to remind myself everything is going to be just fine & it will be.

      Today I come across this lady pushing a triple stroller. We stood there for 10 minutes shooting the breeze & not a sound out of my dog. Curious sniffing and such as usual but quiet as could be. 3 very young anxious children in the stroller & my dog after a minute or 2 was just laying there waiting for me to finish yakking. LOL!

      Last week if someone come to the door – the dog went wacko barking with excitement & would not quit.
      Today my contractor come over (he knows to just walk in) who the dog has never met before come over to do his work & the dog was quiet. Went to him & sniffed as usual, looked for a greet/pet but it was amazing that he didn’t explode into barking like mad-excited.
      I can now leave for several minutes at a time without very much reaction at all from the dog. He is happy on my return but not excited to the point of out-of-control.
      No anxiety panting, no crazy jumping, just a happy dog. I don’t make any deal about my coming & going – I just do it – calmly as if he wasn’t there.
      When he calms down (2 min) I greet him & praise him.
      He is often quite content to sprawl out in his bed in the other room for an hour or so at a time without having to sleep on top of my feet.

      Walks? Wow — so nice to have him walk beside me without him yanking on the leash choking himself half to death.
      Distractions? – not much bothers him now — ready to move onto more & bigger challenges.

      Heh – in short – I hadda train ME to be calm & not get loud/anxious around him when I have to apply any discipline. Otherwise he is a mess because of MY reactions to whatever is happening.
      Awesome learning experience.
      All it took was for me to calm down & quit anticipating something bad was gunna happen.
      I see huge improvements every day .. its simply amazing how our feelings/emotions etc around an animal transfers to it. (weather calm/relaxed or anxious/angry/frustrated, etc)
      It is like night & day.
      I’m anxious, he is anxious.
      I’m calm, he is calm.

      We have our play-time after walks (so he is not excited during walks) where we play tug-o-war etc, then after that – he goes & has a nap. lol.

      hhaha — contractor right now is working in my basement drilling holes in concrete to install a water heater. Earlier the dog was growling and upset.
      Took the dog to the basement to show him what was going on & took him back upstairs.
      Hes laying here beside me schnoozing away happy as could be.

      Lots to learn yet – but it is going sooo well. Dog issues? Naw – I just didn’t know how to handle a dog & thought I had to undo a years worth of babying/pampering.
      Now that I know dogs live in the moment for the most part … then it is the pleasant ‘in the moment’ things I want him to learn & love.

      Sooo.. question remains:
      Do I let him p p all over every pole, hydrant, etc along walks or is it OK to not let him mark the entire neighbourhood?
      He does make it pretty obvious if he is marking or just going to the washroom so it is pretty obvious what I need to allow/not allow. Just not sure if it is going to lead to frustrations if I don’t allow marking everywhere we go.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Tammy,

      I am so glad to hear that things are going so well. With Sephy, calm energy was also very important. I also noticed a big change in his behavior after I changed my own energy and responses.

      As for marking during walks, I personally do not see the harm in that. They are leaving social markers for other dogs to find, and it is a very natural behavior. They also seem to enjoy smelling markers from other dogs.

      When I first got Sephy and started training him, I found that there was a lot of contradictory information out there. Some people want to attribute everything to dominance/being alpha, and others don’t even want to use the ‘d’ word. Here is my take on dog dominance.

  39. Torry says

    My husband and I just moved into a house from an apartment. We have a 5 year old shih-tzu/maltese (C.C.) and an 8 or 9 year old westie (Truman). We used to live with my brother who helped with the seperation anxiety but have since moved out as we are expecting our first child in a couple months. They are having a hard time adjusting to the new house so far. Along with the usual urinating, defacating, howling and general freaking out they recently started becoming destructive, Truman especially. My husband and I both work full time so consistent training is near impossible. Even though we have begun to while we aren’t working. Both dogs were fully grown when we got them and we don’t crate them, in fact, the one time Truman was locked in a room he tore up the carpet and destroyed the padding underneath. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      Some things that helped with Sephy-
      1. Daily exercise. We walk him for an hour or more every day, have fun play sessions, do obedience training, make him work for his food through interactive toys, etc.
      2. Desensitization exercises. I slowly desensitized Sephy to the “people leaving” ritual.
      3. I start small and slowly increase the challenge. First I only leave him alone for a very short time (seconds) before coming back in. Once he is accustomed to this and calm, I very slowly increase the challenge.
      4. I set him up for success and only expose him to situations where he can handle. When Sephy was young, we got a dog walker to take him on group walks at the park. This helped to socialize him to other dogs and also broke up the tedium of his day when I am not home. Other possibilities include dog daycare, pet sitter, or getting a neighbor to come over and visit.

      Other things that I did are listed in the article above. Good luck!

  40. Monica says


    we’ve got a 4 year old danish-swedish garddog, the breed is quite similar to the jack russell. However, he is what you’d say an extreme case of dog separation anxiety, and there is no way any of us can leave the house without him howling and barking, and without sneaking out the backdoor. I’m sure the reason why it got to this is that my father always took him with him on his business trips, which was quite alot, as an easier choice instead of training him to stay home alone. Big mistake. Now, we’ve tried numerous of things, like putting on shoes and a jacket, picking up car-keys and walking around. We even tried the 5-10-15 minute ritual of leaving him, but he is too stressed to calm down. If you as much as walk towards the door he freaks out. And when we come home, after leaving him for a couple of hours, he gets so excited he almost shakes! I know that the whole stress is typical for this breed, but this is too extreme, and I am sure that other families have the same breed without any of the above mentioned issues. What is the next step? What should we do next?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Monica,

      With Sephy what seemed to help is to start *very* small. In the beginning I would just walk to the door and then sit back down. I keep repeating that many times per day until he stops reacting to it. If he reacts, I just treat it like a non-event, i.e., sit back down and ignore him. If he keeps reacting too strongly, then I dial things back even more, e.g. I may just stand up and then sit back down and then repeat.

      I keep repeating until Sephy stops reacting, then I very slowly increase the challenge. The key with Sephy is to go very slowly initially. Once he started to gain some confidence, things started to progress a lot faster. But things were very slow in the beginning.

      The other important thing is to control my own energy. Sometimes I would get anxious myself in anticipation of Sephy freaking out. Sephy would pick up on that energy and get even more frantic. Once I became more calm, Sephy’s behavior also improved. Being angry or frustrated also worsened Sephy’s behavior.

      Doing a lot of daily exercise with Sephy also helped with his anxiety. Socializing him to a wide variety of people and environments helped him gain confidence in other areas, which helped with his separation anxiety.

      Finally, getting help from a professional trainer can also be helpful. A good trainer can place cameras in the house and figure out a good plan to desensitize the dog and help him become more relaxed when home alone.

  41. Gordana says

    Hey I have a 1.5 yr old beagle who has bad seperation anxiety we are not sure how to deal with as he is much older now my problem is that we just got a 8 week old shiba and I worry that he will try to follow the beagles actions is that a correct assumption? Anything I can do to help? Also my shiba will not go to the bathroom on any puppy pads or fake grass just goes inside and outside when we take him, when he makes a mistake I tell him no an place him on the pad then take him outside is there something I’m doing wrong? Lastly he loves to play with our beagle but I worry if we let him play too roughly he will be aggressive towards other dogs as well. Anything to do so he don’t become aggressive but can still play with his buddy?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Gordana,

      In terms of separation anxiety, desensitization exercises can be helpful. I did that with Shiba Sephy when he was young, and he is now pretty good being home alone. Sephy also really likes a fixed routine and consistent rules. He is less stressed when he knows what to expect from everyone in the family – in terms of both schedule and behavior.

      In terms of potty training, what has helped with my dogs is not only to ‘correct’ mistakes, but also to reward them really well for doing their business outside. As soon as they are done with potty outside, I mark the behavior (Good) and reward them with attention, food, and a fun game. Here is more on puppy potty training.

      In terms of playing, I always supervise play sessions and have many play breaks. This keeps everyone from getting over-excited. I do not allow any kind of bullying. I also do group obedience training sessions, so that they learn it is most rewarding when they are calm and working together. Here is more on what I do to introduce a new dog.

      Hugs to your dogs and congratulations on your new Shiba puppy! :D

  42. Joyce says

    Hi, we have a 4 year old Cavashon. For the most part he’s absolutely the best dog ever! However, he has gotten into the habit of becoming agitated and stress when ANYONE leaves the house. If we’re home on a Saturday morning and I need to run an errand, but my husband is home, the dog can sense at leat 10-15 minutes before I leave and starts barking and running around, trying to nip at you to stay. It happens if either of us goes out alone, or when we leave together. It also happens when we have company and the company is leaving, he starts going crazy. I also mention, that when we are in the park and someone stops to pet him, when that person starts to leave, he gets very surly, growling, etc.

    This behavior has developed over the last year, but it’s getting worse. Please help.


    • shibashake says

      Hello Joyce,

      How does he react when he is led away by a leash before the person leaves?

      the dog can sense at leat 10-15 minutes before I leave

      Yeah, dogs are extremely observant and they know all the little things we do when we get ready to leave. Desensitization exercises can be helpful in these situations.

      A variation on people desensitization exercises can also help get a dog accustomed to people coming and leaving. The key is to only expose the dog to a little of the stimulus at a time, so that he can remain calm for the duration. At the same time, we engage the dog in doing something else together with us, so that he focuses on us, instead of on the stressful external stimulus.

      In the meantime, we want to set our dog up for success and carefully manage him so that he does not get exposed to stressful situations that will trigger his reactive behavior. The more a dog practices a behavior, the more it will become a habit.

  43. julie ramirez says

    hello. yeah. my dog keeps on trying to get over to my neighbors fence. ever scince they moved in she has been digging and trying to get over. i spend lots of time with her but she still is so devoted to get over there. why? please help

    • shibashake says

      Hello Julie,

      There are many reasons why dogs dig. My Sibes love to dig to hunt for mice and other earth critters. My puppy once dug and chased a mouse all the way to my neighbor’s yard. Now I place concrete blocks on my fence line so that she cannot dig over there.

      Some things that can help with fence digging-
      1. I let my dog’s dig in a large area at the back of my yard. Then I train them as to where it is ok to dig, and where it is not ok. In this way, they can still engage in fun digging, but not cause any damage.
      2. Exercise helps a lot. The time my puppy dug over to my neighbor’s yard, was during vet-visit day and I only took her for a shorter daily walk. Now I make sure to take her for longer walks every day (1-2 hours).
      3. I also take my dogs to the hill trails around my neighborhood, where there are many interesting smells and they can also dig for mice and such.

  44. Stefania says

    Hello! I hope someone still checks this and can help. My dog has this problem, but not at home, its in the daycare. I don’t want to place the whole blame on the daycare, since it would not be fair. My 7 month husky/mal is used to stay at home by himself for max 5 hours. However, today we decided to try daycare bc we would be gone more than the typical time. Now, when he is home he shows no sign of separation anxiety-he gets his snacks, we dont even overly say goodbye, we just simply leave. we have felt that by doing this, it has helped him get used to staying home by himself. when we come back he is quietly waiting in the kitchen, happy to see us, but never to the point where he shows anxiety.

    However, today, we got a call a few hours later from the daycare stating that he is showing separation anxiety, but that he was playing well with all the dogs in the daycare when its play time. They suggested sedatives when he goes into kennels (which we do not want to do, seeing that he has never showed this problem at home alone). We then get a call again stating that we should pick him up because he starting howling and showing signs of anxiety, and they were afraid he might hurt himself. Now, I was becoming worried and upset because as professionals they should know how to handle situations like this especially if its his first day. Also, we specifically chose this daycare bc they featured all day play with a few rest breaks. Knowing that he loves to play with dogs, as long as his breaks (basically putting him in his kennel) wont go over an hour, he would be ok. However, it seemed as if they kept the dogs longer than that. Well in the end of the day, he showed separation anxiety. I would love for him to not have this at any daycare facility, but how do i fix this if he is absolutely fine at home? Should we just find daycare with all day play and no kennel boarding? the only reason we placed him in the daycare center is so he would have company, being that we would be away for more than 5 hours? any suggestions!?

    thank you in advance!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Stefania,

      My Shiba Inu had a similar experience with daycare. In his case, he really likes his routine, and does not like sleeping in strange places, especially when we are not there. The other thing about daycare that did not suit Sephy is that he really likes energetic wrestling and high speed chase games, which most daycare places do not allow (for good reason).

      An alternative to daycare that I tried is hiring a dog walker. She takes out a group of around 5 dogs to walk off-leash at a nearby park. Shiba Sephy does not have good recall, but he really loves other dogs, so that was how the dog walker got him to come back. I would not do off-leash walking with my Sibes because they have much higher prey drive and there is a greater chance that they would bolt after deer. However, most dog walkers also offer on-leash walking services.

      The nice thing about group walking is that Shiba gets to play with other dogs, gets to go to the park, and after that he comes home to the house pretty tired out. The weakness with hiring a dog walker is that most of them use aversive techniques, which was the key reason we stopped this activity. Also, there are a wide range of dog walkers with different levels of skill. I made sure to get one with a lot of experience, supervised the dogs well, and who is insured. We met the dog walker at our house first, evaluated how she interacted with Sephy, and we also followed her on a couple of her walks.

      In terms of all day daycare, I am not sure how that would go for a puppy. Puppies are not very good at monitoring their own activity level, and may just play, play, play and forget to rest.

      I did visit one all-day play daycare when I was looking for places for Sephy. They told me that they supervise the dogs closely so that the dogs that were resting, did not get bothered by the other dogs. They also only accepted more calm or submissive dogs. In essence, they want to make sure that when a dog who does not want to play makes his/her wishes known, the other dog will back away. Sephy was not a good candidate. :D

      Another possibility is to get a pet sitter to come over to the house.

    • Stefania says

      Thank you for all your suggestions and help! I have just realized that my dog just loves the company, and that he loves spacious places. He knows how to stay at home alone, but not longer than 5 hours. We have just figured out to come home during lunch time and then leave again. As long as he has some interaction in the middle of the day he will be a-ok. I just was worried when they told me separation anxiety, but have never seen the signs of that even when we left him at home. I will def. look into pet sitters as well.

      I must say your blog has helped me so much with the growth of my pup Lobo, from when Lobo was going through his puppy biting phases (around last October) and still find myself going to your blogs. thanks again!!

  45. Colleen says

    I believe you posted about this but I can’t find it…
    Just wondering what are some things I can do to help with separation anxiety? Reptar’s environment and routine has completely changed this past week. He’s actually doing remarkably well and his behavior hasn’t changed too much. However, he is now unsure of his crate (before, he used to love it and go in willingly). I’m just trying to curb any negative effects that might be coming from these drastic changes.

    Thanks for any tips you can provide!

    • shibashake says

      Hey Colleen,
      So good to see you. How have you been?

      Reptar’s environment and routine has completely changed this past week.

      We moved one year after I got Sephy. In the beginning I established a very fixed routine again, and also exercised him more. He gets stressed whenever there are any changes, so the fixed routine helps him a lot. That way he knows exactly when eating time is, when he goes for walks, and most importantly when people come home.

      Another thing you may try is to put Reptar into his crate for shorts periods of time even when you are home. Let him work on his Kong or bully stick. In this way he doesn’t associate being in the crate with you being gone.

      Hugs to you and Reptar. Make sure to take some R&R time-off for yourself as well. :D

  46. shibashake says

    Thanks UnkCoothd. You make a very good point. Dogs can sometimes be forced into an alpha position when there are no rules or consistency in the household. Many dogs get stressed from this because situations arise in the human world that they are unequipped to handle. Many behavioral issues may ensue including not eating, guarding food, marking objects inside the house, etc. These behaviors usually persist even when people are home because such dogs feel stress all of the time. As you described, exercise, rules, and consistency are important to keep this from happening.

  47. UnkCoothd says

    Hey shibashake great hub. I especially think number 3 is important. Another thing to mention is that only the alpha role in a pack is allowed to leave without the others. If a dog assumes the alpha role in its human pack the subordinates leaving can tend to cause separation anxiety and frustration that combined with a lack of exercise can lead to massive damage, defecation and other mayhem while the owners are away.

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