7 Myths Surrounding Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

Myths Surrounding Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation anxiety in dogs is a common behavioral problem that often causes distress to both the dog and its owner. It is characterized by excessive and destructive behavior when your furry friend is left alone or separated from its owner. Despite its prevalence, there are many myths surrounding separation anxiety in dogs that can lead to misunderstandings and ineffective treatment. In this article, we will quash some of these myths and provide a clear and accurate understanding of separation anxiety in dogs.

Myth #1: Separation anxiety is caused by a lack of training

One of the most common myths about dog separation anxiety is that a lack of training or discipline causes it. Many believe a dog will not develop separation anxiety if properly trained and well-behaved. However, this is not true. Separation anxiety is a complex behavioral issue with multiple underlying causes, including genetics, environment, and past experiences. While training can help manage separation anxiety symptoms, it is not a cure-all solution.

Myth #2: Separation anxiety only affects rescue dogs

Another common myth about dogs suffering from separation anxiety is that it only affects dogs adopted from a shelter or rescue organization. However, separation anxiety can occur in dogs of any age, breed, or background. While dogs that have experienced trauma or neglect may be more prone to separation anxiety, it is not limited to these dogs. Separation anxiety can also develop in dogs with a stable and loving upbringing.

Myth #3: Separation anxiety is a form of revenge

Many believe that when a dog exhibits destructive behavior while left alone, it does so out of spite or revenge. Some may even think that the dog is punishing them for leaving. However, most dogs do not have the cognitive ability to understand revenge or spite. Instead, destructive behavior is a symptom of anxiety and stress caused by being separated from their owner.

Myth #4: Separation anxiety can be cured by ignoring the dog

Another myth about treating separation anxiety is that the dog will eventually learn to tolerate being left alone if their owner ignores them. Some people believe that by ignoring the dog, they are teaching it independence and self-reliance. However, this is not a solution for separation anxiety. Ignoring a dog with separation anxiety can exacerbate the problem and increase the dog’s stress levels. Addressing separation anxiety with proper training and behavior modification techniques is important.

Myth #5: Separation anxiety can be cured by getting another dog

Some people believe getting another dog can cure separation anxiety in their current dog. They believe that the presence of another dog will provide comfort and companionship when the owner is away. However, this is not a solution for separation anxiety. Adding another dog to the household can increase the stress and anxiety levels of the original dog. Addressing separation anxiety through proper training and behavior modification techniques is important.

Myth #6: Medication is the only solution for separation anxiety

While medication can help control the symptoms of separation anxiety, it is not the only solution. In fact, medication should always be used in conjunction with proper training and behavior modification techniques. Working with a veterinarian and a qualified dog behaviorist is important to determine if drug therapy is the best route for managing separation anxiety. Medication should never be used as a standalone solution.

Myth #7: Separation anxiety is a phase that dogs will grow out of

Finally, some people believe that separation anxiety is a phase many dogs eventually grow out of. However, this is not always the case. While some dogs may outgrow separation anxiety, others will require ongoing training and behavior modification throughout their lifetime. Addressing separation anxiety as soon as possible is vital to prevent it from becoming a lifelong problem.

Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

When dogs are in the company of their guardian, they usually don’t suffer the consequences resulting from other dogs with separation anxiety. Dogs can bark or howl while in confinement or separated from their owners unless no guardians are around. These barking & howls are persistent and are rarely triggers.

What are the signs of separation anxiety in dogs?

There are a couple of signs that your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety, including destructive behavior, excessive barking or whining, pacing, panting, and even inappropriate elimination. Some dogs may also go off their food or refuse to drink. These behaviors may occur as soon as you leave the house or may take a while to develop. It’s important to take note of other factors, such as boredom or lack of exercise may also cause these behaviors. If you deduce your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, it’s important to seek advice from your veterinarian or a qualified dog behaviorist.

Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone for Long

Letting your dog go when you’re struggling with separation anxiety can be difficult. It’s possible to get someone else to help you with the training of dogs. “Managing absences is extremely important to protecting our progress during our training sessions. Whether we get the dog to a place where your furry friend feels comfortable for 30 min but leave the following day alone for two hours, we can potentially undo everything.

Start small with separation

If your dog’s behavior already reacts strongly when you leave, start small by completing something that signals your departure. Continue doing so until it has been removed from an original negative association. The next step will be to teach your canine friend that it sits and stays while he moves a little farther. Train them to sit down and be rewarded when you go back.

The Difference Between Separation Anxiety and Normal Canine Behavior

Separation anxiety can be severe and goes beyond the occasional mournful whistling when you come home. It’s not equated to boredom, or anti anxiety medication so unlike some fun when a dog’s owner has no interaction, separation anxiety is due to legitimate stress. 

To summarize, separation anxiety in dogs is a complex behavioral issue with multiple underlying causes. Many myths surrounding canine separation anxiety can lead to misunderstandings and ineffective treatment. Understanding the true nature of separation anxiety is important to provide the proper care, supervision, and treatment for affected dogs. By debunking these myths and seeking the right resources, dog owners can help their beloved pets find peace and comfort when alone.


How do I know if my dog’s problem is due to separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety refers to animals that tend to feel a sense of dependency or attachment to a former family member. They can be incredibly anxious or have distress behaviors that involve vocalizations, destruction, or home soiling if left alone. Most dog lovers try to stay near their owners, stay around, and rarely spend time alone outside. Typically, they begin showing anxiousness when owners are ready for departure. Many but not all dogs require physical contact and attention from the owner.

How do I stop my dog’s separation anxiety?

First, try to gradually acclimate your dog to being alone by increasing the time they spend away from you each day. You can also introduce a consistent routine that signals your dog that you are leaving, such as putting on your shoes or grabbing your keys.

Provide your dog with lots of mental stimulation and physical stimulation, like puzzle toys and regular exercise, to keep them occupied and tired. You can also consider crate training your dog, as having a safe and comfortable space of their own can provide comfort during your absence.

For more serious severe separation anxiety cases, consult a local professional dog trainer or behavior specialist who can provide tailored advice and training techniques. With patience and regular training, you can help your dog overcome their separation anxiety and feel more comfortable being left alone.

How do I leave my dog at home with separation anxiety?

Managing a dog that has separation anxiety can be a demanding task for many pet owners. Leaving your furry friend at home can cause distress, anxiety, and fear for them. However, there are steps that you can take to help alleviate separation anxiety in your dog.

Firstly, you can start by creating a comfortable space for your dog in your home, which can be used to relax or feel at ease when you’re away. Try providing your dog with many toys and treats to keep them entertained while you’re away.

Additionally, desensitization techniques can help reduce separation anxiety treatment and levels in dogs. Desensitization involves training your dog to feel comfortable when you’re away by gradually increasing the time you spend apart.

Another option is using calming aids such as pheromone sprays or herbal remedies like chamomile or lavender. These can help keep your dog calm and relaxed while you’re away.

Lastly, pet parents must remain patient and persistent throughout the process. Addressing your dog’s separation anxiety can take time, but with consistent obedience and behavioral training and care, you can help your furry friend feel more comfortable and content when you’re apart.

How long does it take to break a dog from separation anxiety?

The time it takes to break a dog from separation anxiety depends on various factors, such as the severity of the condition, the dog’s age, breed, and personality, the owner’s ability to implement effective training and management strategies, and the consistency and patience applied.

Some dogs can overcome separation anxiety in a few weeks, while others may require months of training and behavior modification. The way to success is to start with a comprehensive evaluation of the dog’s needs, triggers, and sources of anxiety, followed by a tailored plan that includes positive reinforcement training, desensitization, and counterconditioning techniques. Additionally, implementing environmental and lifestyle changes, such as exercise, socialization, and providing safe and stimulating toys and treats, can also aid in reducing the dog’s anxiety and stress levels and increasing their confidence and independence. Consistency, patience, and kindness are crucial for a successful outcome, and seeking professional help from a certified dog behaviorist may also be necessary for severe cases.