Separation Anxiety In Dogs – Symptoms To Look For – Part One

Separation anxiety in dogs is basically just what the words mean…anxiety experienced by your dog when you leave the house and he is left behind. Some dogs can exhibit separation anxiety simply by having their owner stepping out of sight and into another room.

In this four part series, we’ll look at: 

One – What exactly is separation anxiety and what are the symptoms

Two – Why some dogs develop separation anxiety

Three – What medical problems must be ruled out before separation anxiety can be blamed

Four – What to do about your dog’s separation anxiety

In some dogs the symptoms are relatively mild but for other dogs, the symptoms are severe and can make life miserable for the dog and put you, the owner in a very uncomfortable postion as you try to cope with an upset canine.

The behavioral symptoms of separation anxiety are quite varied and some owners mistake some of these behaviors simply as unruly behavior or lack of training. But this is a mistake, as a dog who suffers from separation anxiety is truly in distress. Let’s get a closer look at some of these symptoms:

Among the most common symptoms of separation anxiety is destructive or disruptive behavior when the dog is left alone. These behaviors may include barking and howling, digging, trying to get out of the house, urinating and defecating in the house, and chewing household objects. 

Although these behaviors can also be seen in untrained and unhousebroken dogs, they are usually accompanied by the dog showing signs of distress prior to the owner leaving the house, such as drooling or other signs of agitation when they realize their owner is preparing to leave.

Some dogs become so upset they do anything they can to try to escape and can even injure themselves or destroy furnishings or damage frames around windows or doors. 

Here is a list of common separation anxiety symptoms:

Barking and howling

Urinating and defecating inside the house

Corophagia (defecating then eating his own excrement)


Destruction of household items

Chewing (including door and window frames)

Escape attempts

Pacing back and forth or walking in circles when the owner is not present

So now you understand what separation anxiety is, what the symptoms are and most importantly, that your dog is NOT misbehaving, he is simply so anxious he is doing everything he knows to do to seek relief. 

In Part Two of this series, we’ll look at just why some dogs develop separation anxiety and why some dogs do not. 

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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