Anxiety of separation in a dog. Proven tips on how to beat it

– The peak of our success was to go to the local store in a quarter of an hour. Frida couldn’t stand without me anymore – says Marcin, the owner of a happy pinscher whose world collapsed as he was left alone. – The situation is getting worse. Kamila, who has a similar problem, says that if we can’t find someone we know to take care of the dog, we can’t go to friends or to the movies.

  • Separation anxiety is a set of behaviors that cause anxiety in situations where an animal is separated from the people to whom it is attached.
  • “It was so loud that even though I was on the fifth floor at the time, I heard it on the first floor near the main door,” Marcin said.
  • Maltese Kamila worries her neighbors. – After a few months of blockade, we started to leave him alone at home, but it never took more than five minutes because he started to bark.
  • Marcin consulted with the behaviorist, but admitted that there was no consistency. Kamila tried CBD oils – to no avail
  • Zoopsychologist Magdalena Gutkowska explains that separation anxiety can be proven not only by knocking on the door, but also, for example, by pouring water from the mouth.
  • You can read more similar articles on the Onet homepage

The pandemic was a unique period for animals. Owners were able to spend more time with their pets, and shelters were pleased to report a sudden increase in adoptions. However, there is another side to the coin – more dogs are worried about separation after the pandemic. Defeating him is not a lowly task that requires a titanic job.

Kamila’s family decided to buy a dog before the pandemic began, and without the sudden locking, their beloved Maltese would surely have had the opportunity to train themselves in solitude every day. – The son received a total of one year of distance education, and the husband, even though it was possible to return to the office, still chose the home office, – says the woman.

Everyone approached Pior, and only Camille could remember the words of the sharp landlord, who soon began to get used to the absence of their owners. – After a few months of locking, we started to leave him alone at home, but it never took more than five minutes because he started to bark. Each time my son returned to school, I decided to teach him. I decided that if I was alone five times a week, between 13:00 and 14:15, she would get used to it, Kamila recalls.

Unfortunately, Pior did not get many chances. Neighbors behind the wall have a small child, and they quickly knocked on the door with a complaint.

Kamila was looking for solutions in different ways. Pioru was not interested in the cage of the church. The olfactory mat looked attractive, but only for a moment, until the hidden flavors were gone. – She started her concert already – Kamila shrugs.


Photo: Hero’s own archive

The helpless hostess continued to look. On the Internet, he was invited to participate in a study on the effects of CBD oils on animals. After thinking for a moment, he decided it was worth a try. Maybe the dog will calm down. “I’m starting to doubt that we’re getting real fat, because there was no effect during the two months we fed the dog,” he explains.

Kamila’s ideas are exhausted and the dog still can’t wait quietly for her owners to return home. He usually lies in front of the door, always laughing. It happens that he defecates in the gym, although he has been cleaning for a long time.

– The situation is getting worse. If we don’t find someone we know who will look after the dog, we can’t go to friends or to the movies, – explains Kamila.

Inseparable friends

Marcin (a 30-year-old employee of an international corporation) and Frida (a 3-year-old pinscher woman) are also inseparable, although it is difficult to say by force or choice. At the very beginning of the pandemic, the dog entered under the roof of Marci and became not only a loyal friend, but also a great motivator for daily activities in unusual circumstances. – With my procrastination love, I would probably stay home for many weeks and use the option to order food with delivery. Frida’s presence made it necessary to get up early in the morning and take regular walks, regardless of your attitude. At this worst moment of closure, Frida got my ticket out, she remembers. – I did not think how it would affect him.

But as the world gradually returned to normal, Marcin and Frida’s daily lives became more complicated. Marcin, a dog accustomed to being with his master during the day, felt great fear every time he left the house. – Immediately he began to scream, scream and whine. It was so loud that even though I was living on the fifth floor at the time, I could still hear it when I was on the first floor near the main door. – It is good that the block is mostly inhabited by the elderly, so no one complained.

The man began to look for advice on the Internet, but soon realized that he could not influence the behavior of Frida, who was left without a guardian at home. He went to the behaviorist on his first visit with great hope and optimism. He carefully noted every comment and advice from the expert. Tips, including providing your dog with a comfortable environment before being left alone. Aromatherapy with music or lavender oils from a pet playlist has become commonplace, but has not yielded the desired results. Marcin went to another behaviorist. Her separation anxiety was different from her work with the dog, but in practice it didn’t work either. – The peak of our success was to go to the local store for only a quarter of an hour. Frida couldn’t stay longer without me, she explains.

Marcin knows that Frida’s failure to move forward is not the dog’s fault. – What can I say? I was not consistent. In the meantime, I was able to buy my own apartment, and when I moved, I decided to take a break from working on a stress-free separation, says the 30-year-old, who is really relieved when the excuse comes. Marcin doesn’t know who suffered the most during the separation. Oh, or Frida?

Dog for the office

In this case, there are two solutions – stay with the dog in the apartment or start taking the dog with you everywhere. Marcin chose the second option. Warsaw is generally dog-loving. The vast majority of restaurant owners greet four-legged Frida with a glass of fresh water, the ladies at the post office send her gentle glances, and the cashiers at the gate will want to take a selfie together sooner rather than later.

The only place Marcin was afraid to bring his dog was the office. – Recently, an office week was organized, ie a week when every employee has to work in a hospital. At first, I was a little nervous, because this is an eight-hour trip to a place where there will be a lot of people, ‘he says. Fortunately, Frida’s need for adoration was met, and sometimes she rejoiced when someone gave her a smile or a dog’s taste.

Marcin is still working with the dog. Frida has a special bag that not only serves as a bed, but also gives her a safe haven. “His snoring at my desk sometimes discourages me, but I prefer the sound to the realization that he’s alone at home and screaming in fear and despair,” she says.



Photo: Hero’s own archive

– I know that this is a temporary solution. One day I have to go back to Frida to train and teach her not to be afraid to be alone. During the pandemic, I felt like going to a party, but I have to admit that I would like to leave the house from time to time and not worry about the dog – he adds.

Unexplained symptoms of stress

Zoopsychologist and dog trainer Magdalena Gutowska is sensitive that every undesirable behavior of a dog in the absence of a human is not an immediate fear of separation. -Sometimes dogs are harassed because they have not been able to meet their physical and intellectual needs before. In such situations, it is the dull boredom or excessive use of inexhaustible energy and lack of longing for the owner that makes them turn the trash can or take an interest in fake shoes, the expert explains. Expert terminology also distinguishes between separation frustration, which is often confused with separation anxiety.

Therefore, Magdalena Gutowska always asks clients to send notes showing the behavior of the dog when the dog is alone before the meeting. – Then I can see why the dog is demolishing the apartment and what emotions accompany it then. In addition, separation anxiety manifests itself in various forms. Not just by destroying or destroying. Sometimes the house is quiet and there is no damage, and the note clearly shows that the pooch is experiencing strong emotions. For example, a dog walks in the apartment for several hours or breathes or is stressed, he explains.

It is important to know that separation anxiety is not always the result of a dog owner’s overly protective attitude. Predisposition to a particular type of behavior can be genetically inherited, including a predisposition to anxiety relationships. – It happens that we get a puppy from a pedigree farm, and from the beginning he goes up with the training of loneliness. Unfortunately, there are many breeders who only pay attention to the appearance of dogs and decide to breed even if they know they are worried – explains Magdalena Gutowska.

During the pandemic, the problem worsened

In turn, there are two main reasons for the worry of separation. One is a traumatic event in the dog’s life, such as the death of the owner and the shelter, and the other is simply a lack of proper loneliness training. “I specialize in this problem, so I always had a lot of clients who asked me for help, but their number has increased since the pandemic and remote work,” says Magdalena Gutovska.

The expert explains that a few minutes of bread or going to the local store is too short to teach the dog our absence. The need for regular and gradually extended moments of separation. Loneliness training can be done even when working remotely. – The dog should not sit next to our computer all day. After walking and feeding him, we can go to another room of the apartment and close the door behind us. First 10 minutes, then 20 and gradually more. The dog is aware that someone is still at home, but he is no longer with us, not our shadow – he explains. Of course, the time and method of isolating ourselves from the dog must be adapted to each individual situation.

Separation can take weeks, usually months. Visiting a specialist will not solve the problem immediately. The owner receives advice and support, but then everything depends on its regularity and consistency. It is also worth remembering that true separation anxiety cannot be completely cured, we only treat it. “If we forget to separate ourselves from the dog on a regular basis and follow certain rules, it can come back,” says Magdalena Gutovska.

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