Pets with Problems

What NOT To Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety!

When your dog is ’misbehaving’ and you are at home, it’s incredibly annoying but manageable. But, what’s it like when they ’misbehave’ when you are out? I know firsthand what it is like to come home to a wrecked sofa, or a nasty deposit on your carpet. Even though we love our dogs, our first instinct is to discipline them for their ‘bad’ behaviour. But, if you dog suffers from separation anxiety, they are not being naughty; they are not being spiteful because you left them and they are not angry. Separation anxiety is akin to a phobia and the behaviours are phobic responses to being alone, to being frightened and panicking – your dog literally has lost control! So, what do you do? More to the point what DON’T you do? Read on to learn more about how to prep your pup!

Fear Based Training Does Not Work!

Bark collars or even worse, e-collars do not work. They are cruel devices that are not in any way treating your dog’s separation anxiety. The only thing these collars accomplish is making your already panicked dog even more terrified and causing him pain which makes being alone the more frightening than it already is and perhaps the most terrifying thing that could happen to him. In all likelihood his behaviour will get worse, not better and what caring dog owner would ever want to inflict pain on their beloved pet?

Confinement Often Makes Things Worse

A dog with separation anxiety is already frightened when alone. If they are confined to a crate then they also feel trapped which just makes things worse. I cannot tell you how much damage I have seen these dogs do to themselves trying to escape their crates – broken teeth, ripped claws and so on.

Punishment Won’t Fix Things

Many people will tell you that their dog looks guilty when they return home.  It is very unlikely that dogs do guilt.  What they do feelis frightened and the look on their faces when you come home is fear, not guilt.  Why?  Because every time you come home you punish them for whatever unwanted behaviour they have done whilst you were out.  What is worse is that they do not associate the punishment with the behaviour – dogs only associate punishment with behaviour if the punishment happens immediately after or during the behaviour.  All your dog is feeling is that being alone is frightening and bad enough but you returning home has now added to the fear of being punished. I know it is difficult to fathom, but you must remember that your dog’s actions, when you are out, are a panic response and quite likely something that he has no control over. Your dog is not purposely damaging your home, so shouting or even worse hitting him will never help improve his behaviour but it will hurt your bond and instead of your dog being happy to see you, he will be scared of you.

Quick Fixes and Miracle Cures

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is simply no quick fix for separation anxiety. Any treatment, programme, herb, or anything else that claims to cure separation anxiety quickly is simply too good to be true. There is really only one thing that works for treating separation anxiety in dogs: gradual systematic desensitisation. Any other ‘miracle’ you choose to try is likely to be a waste of time, money, and effort. At best it is unlikely to work and at worst it may cause long term harm.

Treating The Root Cause

When I speak to new clients, they are often at their wits end because of their dog’s behaviour.  They want the barking to stop when they are gone so the neighbours stop complaining; they want to stop the door from being destroyed so they don’t have to spend money replacing it or they are tired of cleaning up the mess every time they come home. But these behaviours are a reaction to the fear that the dog is feeling – in separation training we do not treat the response – we treat the root cause, the fear, and if we can resolve  this then the behaviours disappear automatically.   So, by hopefully helping you resolve your dog’s separation anxiety problem, we’ll resolve your barking and destruction problem at the same time. From the very beginning of the programme the unwanted behaviours disappear because we never let your dog reach their panic threshold ever again!


I cannot urge you enough to work with someone who knows what they are doing.  Dog separation anxiety is not easy to treat, and a lot of dog trainers and behaviourists simply do not have the training or knowhow to address this condition successfully.  Not only am I a qualified clinical behaviourist but I specialise in separation anxiety and have specifically studied how to understand and deal with this terrible condition. 
Contact Me For Help

If you are struggling, I cannot urge you enough to contact me for help. The expertise I can offer is priceless when helping your dog overcome his anxiety and knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel – your dog CAN be happy at home alone.

Please, contact me with any questions you have.  

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