Separation Anxiety in Dogs: 6 Breeds That Hate Being Alone


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If your dog acts a bit strange when you come home from work, you could have a dog with separation anxiety.

It can be painful to watch our furry family members lament our departure. Like hip dysplasia or stubbornness, separation anxiety in dogs isn't guaranteed for certain breeds, but there are breeds that are at higher risk for developing it. Dogs with separation anxiety exhibit extreme signs of distress that go beyond a mournful whine or a chewed-up shoe. They could chew up an entire sofa, have consistent "accidents" in the house, exhibit excessive barking, or destroy walls or window fixtures. If the dog is confined to a crate, they could end up hurting himself in an attempt to escape. Here's what to know about separation anxiety in dogs.

What Causes Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

There is no specific known cause for separation anxiety, but it seems to be more common in breeds known to be "people-dogs." It's also a common issue with rescue animals. That said, the signs of separation anxiety in dogs won't necessarily appear right away. Dog owners may recognize the following signs over time:

  • Pacing, trembling, urinating or defecating in the house when the dog notices departure cues
  • Attempts to escape confinement if crated
  • Excessive drooling, panting, or salivation
  • Chewing, digging, or other destructive acts
  • Excessive vocalizations like howling, barking, or whining

To ease your dog's anxiety, you can work with them by training for short periods of time, introducing interactive toys like puzzle toys, and obedience training to work on cases of severe anxiety. If you're looking to add a new canine into your life, keep in mind that some dog breeds are more likely to develop separation anxiety than others. Here are six dogs prone to separation anxiety.

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Dogs With Separation Anxiety

1. Labrador Retriever

labrador retriever separation anxiety

The Labrador Retriever has long since been known as the American family dog. It may be due to that kind of familial bond that separation anxiety is so common in this breed. They're loyal and affectionate companions that love nothing more than spending time with their families. For an unusually high number of Labs, especially young ones, the trouble starts when the family leaves.

2. German Shepherd Dog

german shepherd dog separation anxiety

Like the Labrador Retriever, the German Shepherd Dog is found in living rooms and backyards all across the country--not to mention army garrisons and police stations. They're energetic working dogs with easy temperaments, but recent years have seen more and more cases of separation anxiety.

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3. Australian Shepherd Dog

australian shepherd dog separation anxiety

As another active herding breed dog, the Australian Shepherd thrives when there's a job to do. From herding livestock to working search and rescue, they love being active and getting their paws dirty. They don't handle boredom well, and that character trait often translates into severe cases of separation anxiety. Aussies are happiest when they're busy, and with no people around, they tend to show signs of extreme distress.

4. German Shorthaired Pointer

german pointer looking sad

The German Shorthaired Pointer is another working dog but instead of taming sheep, these dogs show their skills on the hunt. They're one of the most popular hunting dog breeds, and they're accustomed to working alongside their owners for hours a day. GSPs don't like being left alone, and most would much rather be out in the field with their owner than cooped up in an empty house.

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5. Vizsla

vizsla dog on bed

The Hungarian Vizsla is another dog bred for the hunt. They form strong partnerships with their owners and are commonly referred to as "velcro dogs." When their owners leave, many express their distress with destructive chewing and consistent howling. But when they're in a duck blind or traipsing through the woods, they're calm and collected.

6. Bichon Frise

bichon frise dog against bed separation anxiety

The Bichon Frise is tailored more to being a pampered lap dog than the other breeds on this list, but they're small dogs with big separation issues. They were bred as companions, and that's what they do best. They're perfectly content to spend every minute with their owners. But when their owners are not in sight, many let panic set in.

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How to Stop Separation Anxiety in Dogs

True separation anxiety can be caused by a number of factors. The dog could have a history of abandonment or may have been separated from his mother at too early an age. There are anxious dogs, however, whose separation anxiety seems to come from nowhere.

Pet parents can help stop separation anxiety by hiring a dog sitter to take their pup on walks while they are away for long periods of time; a tired dog usually doesn't have time for destructive behavior. Doggie daycare or working with a dog trainer is also a good fix for anxious behaviors because they will be supervised and have dogs to play with. Crate training is also useful, as your dog learns that it is a safe haven and can help to train your dog into thinking that you will always return.

While certain breeds may be more likely to develop separation anxiety, it is an affliction that has potential to affect any dog. Breeds like Border Collies, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, French Bulldogs, and Greyhounds are all also known to be subject to separation anxiety.

If your dog is showing signs of severe separation anxiety, it's important to meet with a canine veterinary behaviorist or certified applied animal behaviorist to learn how to best help your pup overcome his distress and talk about different behavior modifications, from increased socialization to potentially getting your furry friend a companion dog.

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Does your dog have separation anxiety? Tell us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

READ MORE: Splooting: Why Dogs Love Laying Perfectly Flat

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