Separation Anxiety in Dogs

by Lindsey Hazlett


In general, separation anxiety is a common issue that many pet owners experience. Now that many new owners are going back to work in the office after the pandemic, or simply spending more time doing activities outside the home, there are a lot of dogs currently struggling with this. 


What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is the feeling of distress and panic that some dogs experience when left alone or when their owner leaves them. The severity of the distress can vary. 


Here are some common signs of separation anxiety:


  • Barking and howling
  • Excessive pacing and drooling/sweating
  • Destruction
  • Escape efforts
  • Urination and defecation


There certainly can be other causes of these behaviors (boredom, incomplete house training, alerting to disturbances outside the home, etc.), so it may be best to set up a video camera to watch what truly happens when you leave your pet alone in order to determine the root issue.


What causes it?

Dogs can develop separation anxiety for a variety of reasons that are often difficult to pinpoint. Common causes include lack of positive alone time as a young dog, genetic predisposition, environmental changes, changes in schedule, or any combination of these. 


Some dogs will begin exhibiting signs early in puppyhood or adolescence, and others develop it later in life.


Can I prevent it?

If your dog is young or is not currently exhibiting signs of separation anxiety, it is important to begin teaching them that it is okay to be alone. 


Create a safe space for your dog, whether it be in a crate, expen, or separate room. Include comfortable materials and eliminate the safety hazards. Then, take some time to help your puppy create a positive association with the space. Provide treats, fun toys and bones, and enrichment activities. Reward your dog for choosing to enter that space. 


Slowly leave the space for seconds at a time and heavily reinforce your puppy. Return BEFORE your dog has the opportunity to experience any discomfort. Practice this in tiny sessions throughout the day and help your dog build up some duration over time.


When should I get help?

Not only is separation anxiety intense and highly stressful for your dog, but it’s also a safety concern. When engaging in destructive behaviors, there’s always a risk that your dog may fracture a tooth, ingest a foreign body, break off nails, or lacerate paws. Therefore, it needs to be addressed immediately. 


As you begin formulating a plan to treat separation anxiety, stop leaving your dog alone right away as much as possible. Continuing to put your dog in situations where they will experience separation distress will only worsen the issue. See if you can modify your schedule, bring your dog along to places, hire a pet sitter or dog walker, or if appropriate, look into local doggy daycares. 


It may be a good idea to ask your veterinarian about potential medications or supplements to help your dog better cope in the instances where you do have to leave your dog alone in the meantime.




I’ll Be Home Soon



Managing Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety” by Karen Pryor






Busy Dog Trainer

Lindsey Hazlett


Myth #1: Muzzled dogs are bad dogs.

Fact: Dogs may be muzzled for a variety of different reasons; none of which is because the dog is inherently bad. A muzzle may be used for situations beyond aggression and reactivity. Some dogs are known to eat things off the ground that they shouldn’t. The muzzle will protect his sensitive stomach or help prevent the risk of him ingesting a foreign body, which is a serious veterinary emergency. Some dogs also play too rough or play with dogs with thin skin, like greyhounds. The muzzle can protect those other dogs from accidental injuries. A muzzle may also be appropriate for a dog with a high prey drive. This saves the wildlife in the area! In some states and countries, there may also be a Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) that states that specific breeds and breed mixes must be muzzled in public.

Myth #2: Muzzled dogs are unhappy.

Fact: With proper training, a dog wearing a muzzle perceives the muzzle as an exciting tool that lets the dog do things she might not otherwise be able to do. Proper muzzle training includes a slow introduction to the muzzle with plenty of high value treats in order to create a positive conditioned emotional response (+CER). Tiny steps are taken following the introduction so that the dog may feel safe and learn to tolerate the muzzle before it is ever strapped on or used for an extended period of time. A properly muzzle trained dog will not try to remove the muzzle, nor will appear bothered by it in any way. The muzzle means freedom!

Myth #3: Only aggressive and reactive dogs should be muzzle trained.

Fact: In addition to the situations where a muzzle may be used listed in #1, muzzle training is also an important just in case skill that may prove to be valuable in the future. In the perfect storm of a situation, any terrified dog or dog in pain may bite. If a painful injury occurs, even the most tolerant dogs may snap at the veterinary office. In these instances, a muzzle will be necessary in order to protect both the veterinary workers and the dog. If the dog is already muzzle trained, this will be one less stressful aspect of the visit.


Myth #4: Muzzles need to be tightly fitted.

Fact: Tightly-fitted muzzles are only appropriate for very short periods of time, as they restrict the amount of air flow the dog will get. A properly-fitted muzzle will be basket style, large enough to allow panting, yawning, and drinking water. An easy way to measure how big the basket muzzle should be is to measure the circumference of the dog’s snout with a ball in his mouth.

Myth #5: It’s safe to let my dog run up to a muzzled dog.

Fact: Without asking, it’s impossible to know why a dog is wearing a muzzle. For this reason, a muzzled dog should always be provided plenty of space in order to avoid stressing the dog and her handler. Do not make assumptions, but instead offer a kind smile and a little extra room.


Muzzle Training with Chowder

by Lindsey Hazlett

Busy Dog Trainer