When your Dog Hates being Alone…
Treating and Preventing Separation Anxiety Behavior
For Rebecca Kaplan, this article’s author, and her husband Dan Kaplan, separation anxiety is something their two-year-old Shetland Sheepdog “Bomber,” pictured above, has had to overcome. “For the first seven months we had Bomber, he was fine when we would leave him alone,” recalled Dan. “However, I was typically home with him during the day for the most part. When I began student teaching and he went from being with someone all day to being alone for eight hours at a time,
he regressed in his behavior. He would bark incessantly and urinated and defecated in the kitchen where he stayed during
the day.” At the same time, Bomber went from being able to sleep through the night in the kitchen alone to howling until they took him into the bedroom to be near them. Luckily for the Kaplans, Bomber has since “grown out of it.”
By Rebecca Kaplan
Published May 7, 2012
Georgia, a three-year-old rescue Beagle,
hates being alone.

She hates it so much that she whimpers
even when her owner goes to take a shower
or leaves for a couple of minutes.

“Beagles are known for the volume of their barks,” said owner Matt Caranante. “[When we’d leave] you could hear her on the busy street we lived on as she wailed away from our fourth story window. When we moved
Georgia and Lola pose for a picture.
to a quieter neighborhood in mid-2011, you could hear her bark echoing in the park across the street.” Caranante said Georgia would shake and shiver when he would get ready to leave. On several occasions, she soiled her crate while her owners were out.

Georgia’s reaction to being left alone is a classic example of separation anxiety.

What is separation anxiety?

According to Danicia Ambron, a certified dog trainer in New York City, separation anxiety, or SepA, is “when a dog cannot be left alone or even have the owner out of sight without displaying some type of undesirable behavior that is specific to the ‘separation.’”

“These [undesirable] behaviors vary and are on a spectrum of severity ranging from toileting in the house to eating through sheet-rock and causing themselves bodily harm,” said Ambron. “If a dog urinates in the home and is destructive regardless of the owner’s presence, then these behaviors would not be classic SepA.”

There are several behaviors that are classic examples of SepA according to the Humane Society of the United States including digging and scratching at doors or windows; destructive chewing; howling, barking, and whining; and urination and defecation in the house even with dogs that are housetrained.