What can we do to help are pup’s be okay when we leave them day to day? There are ways to prevent but in some cases there is much more.

Separation Related Problems (SRP)

Separation Anxiety is a Catch-all term used to describe the state of a dog that is in distress when left alone.

In reality Separation Anxiety is a very specific diagnosis that doesn’t apply to most dogs that are labeled that way.

Every dog is different and Separation Related Problems can come in many different ways Fear of being alone or away from others.

Treatments and set ups will be different for each case:

Some are claustrophobic – don’t do well in confinement, some will do better in a confined area they feel comfortable and safe in.

Some are fine with company of strangers (as long as they aren’t alone).

Some are anxious if a specific person/people are not there, even if someone else is there.

Symptoms when left alone:

Chewed objects
Soiled carpets/crates
Puddles of saliva or fur (anxious drooling)       Scratched walls/door frames or doors
Neighbors telling owners about barking and howling Anorexia – dog not eating

How to treat SRP(s):

Building new associations
Building confidence – more positive things associated with you being away (most common way to treat SRP(s))​

Desensitization​ – exposing your dog, in a very measured systematic way, to something that they fear (being home alone or in a crate).

Start by exposing dog in a way that is completely non-threatening to the dog

Meaning: it does not induce a fearful response and gradually work your way up from there

The increase is so gradual that the dog is always able to feel safe.

*Never give the dog more than they can comfortably handle

*Never put the dog in a position where they feel so afraid

This process should allow the dog to grow more comfortable and confident about being left alone as you progress through the desensitization program

Takes time



Self-control from the human side (we push and ask for too much too fast)

Slow down

You must ​not​ leave the dog alone while working through the SRP.

Are the dog’s basic needs being met?

Health okay?

Eating food?

Good quality food?

Exercise okay?

Minimum of 30 minutes per day. Dog moving, walks, play, sniffing

Mental stimulation okay? Problem solve at least once a day

Medication: I am not qualified to discuss more than talk with your vet or a vet behaviorist. It will go hand in hand with a behavior modification.

One size does not fit all
Not all dogs need medication

Where will your dog hang out in this process?
Where does your dog feel most comfortable/relaxed? Crate? Room? Large open space that can be blocked, if needed?

Should you use a crate?
Does your dog like to be in a crate or confined?

Can you use a baby gate or barrier?

Considering using a new space (where your dog doesn’t hang out)
Build a positive association with that spot, no gates or closed doors

Feed meals there

Hang out quietly there – they get a food toy while you check Facebook or read
In order to create a new space to become a familiar space, where you want your dog to be able to relax you have to spend a lot of time there creating the positive association

Departure Cues

Events that signal your dog that you’re about to leave (brushing teeth, packing your lunch, etc.)

Good to know, but this is not crucial to your success Great practice to learn to “read” your dog.

These will help you gauge where your dog is at in the desensitization process.

What are the normal sounds and activity when you are home?
Would the tv be on if you are home? Would there be music? Would it be quiet? Would there be a fan? White noise or brown noise?

Letting dog look outside​ –

Dogs that are prone to being anxious do more than just look

They might feel they need to patrol or be on guard the whole time and that can create way more stress for the dog.

These dogs need their view blocked (frosted window blur the outside view but let the light in)

Technology – be able to stream and have a good connection to see what your dog is doing

  1. Watch and know they are doing okay

  2. Then start increasing the amount of time they are left alone

    What your plan could look like:

  1. Get your dog use to you moving away from him by doing extremely easy exercises while your dog lays there and relaxes while you simply move around

  2. Introduce a barrier- not to confine your dog but to prevent him from being able to follow you as you increase the amount of time away from him, even though you are home, he can’t be right there with you ALL the time (give the dog a snuffle mat, licky mat, frozen kong while you work, read, do dishes)

  3. Gradually increase the amount of time he is away from you (don’t always give your dog an activity to keep him busy, we don’t just want to distract him but we want him to learn to be alone) Weeks of practice gradually increasing the time apart

  4. Once your dog can handle that, this is where you start to add the door into the exercises

    1. Practice moving to the door

    2. The sounds the door makes:

      i. Unlock
      ii. handle being turned

      iii. opening and closing the door

      v. Stepping thru and close the door (use the video)                                                             Stepping in and out the door

      1. Walking away

      2. Increase the amount of time on the outside of the door

      3. Leave

      4. When coming home, greet the dog as casual as you can, don’t ignore your dog

How does your dog really feel when left alone?


Pro Resources for Separation Issues