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Northgate Queensland

Pet Health

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation anxiety in dogs

Just as humans can suffer anxiety in situations like public speaking or from a fear of heights, dogs can experience similar feelings.

Anxiety and stress from separation is very common and occurs when a dog is separated from either a person or another animal. These feelings and behaviours can be addressed by one or a combination of actions designed to modify your dog’s behaviour, managing its environment and in some cases, daily medications to help with stress levels.

Behavioural signs of separation anxiety

Signs of anxiety can vary with the different degrees of stress:

  • Your dog may become quiet, 
  • Be reluctant to play or eat
  • Constantly licking of paws or other body parts
  • Vocalising, howling and barking continuously
  • Attempting to escape the yard by jumping over and digging under fences
  • Causing damage to your house, furniture and other belongings by scratching or chewing.

Unfortunately these behaviours can escalate and lead to serious damage to property, or nuisance and noise complaints and in severe cases, even be life threatening.

Do not punish your dog.

It’s very important for you to know that when your dog's fight or flight centre is activated, your dog is in a state of high stress and is panicking without thinking. He isn’t being naughty when he scratches the door or chews your shoes, he is responding to stress. Punishing in any way like yelling, hitting or exiling him will only make the problem worse.


Separation anxiety is neither a training issue nor an obedience problem. Just like in people, anxiety is a medical condition that requires a medical professional to put together an appropriate treatment plan. There are a number of treatments available which may include one or a combination of medication, behavioural modification, pheromone stimulation and calming therapy, and environmental changes. Separation anxiety can cause great distress for both you and your dog. At St Vincents and Northgate Vets, we work closely with Dr Cam Day, a veterinary behaviour expert, plus dog trainers - and we can assess your dog's particular needs and come up with a long term solution.

Written by Chantelle Ford Cert IV Vet Nursing  © Northgate Vet Surgery, Queensland  2019

Posted in: Pet Health at 14 August 19