Dog separation anxiety – what are the symptoms

dog separation anxietyThere are many great sites out there telling people about dog separation anxiety, but since they are after your clicks and you coming back, they sugar coat the reality of why dogs have the separation anxiety in the first place.

Their solutions (which we discuss in the next blog) are also usually about masking the problem, not fixing it.


NOTE there is a massive difference between medical diagnosed depression and dog separation anxiety and a dog feeling a little bit blue or bored.


There are many more issues that you can see caused by dog separation anxiety, but these are some of the main ones:

Chewing, Digging and Destruction

These are common things in puppies or dogs left alone for a long period that have not been exercised, are not confident and happy dogs.

Dogs can either dig in the back yard making a mess or chew all of the wood off your house.

If your dog is over the puppy stage but is still a major chewer, it doesn’t mean separation anxiety. It can mean boredom or wanting comfort. It stops being something else when the dog does this almost exclusively after you have left the house and it causes injury to itself such as:

  • broken teeth,
  • nails damage.
  • cut & hurt paw pads

 Urinating and Defecating

This can happen if your dog is not self confident and scares easily from noises – just like a small child. Again the test here is if the dog eliminates while you are in the house or not. IN the house it might be a territorial thing, when you have left, they are definitely giving you a signal.


Does your dog might attempt to dig and chew through doors or windows, or gates? I had a client once whose dog was so needing to be with her it would bloody itself throwing itself against a big robust gate until it broke.

This is a variation on the excessive chewing issue above. Again you know its a major issue if a dog ends up with broken teeth and injured paws. This escape will occur when the owner has left and the dog is trying to get to them. Otherwise escapes are either caused because you are a bad owner or the dog has picked up a scent or howl that it needs to get to – but it will do this when you are home as much as when you are gone.

Barking and Howling & Pacing
Bored dogs howl. Dogs wanting sexual congress can howl. But this is almost exclusively when a dog has been left at home. If there are no obvious sources that the dog is howling at , it might be expressing the pain of separation anxiety.

The dog pacing thing is a clear sign of a dog driven to madness. Mad human inmates will also pace on a given line up and down because their minds are over loaded and this is a physical manifestation of that pain of separation. This will only occur when the owner is away and the only way to know is to have a neighbour tell you, or for you to secretly spy on your dog.

Coprophagia and PICA

Some dogs will eat rabbit poo for variety and maybe nutrition. There is usually little harm in this.

However eating the dogs own excrement is an extreme sign of some kind of mental disease usually. A dog may have pica and chew on poo in the park or roll in it – this is different from it eating its own poo at home.

NEXT we look at the CAUSES of dog separation anxiety