Managing Separation Anxiety – Part Five

Welcome to Part 5

So, we are now moving into the final stages of training. Today we’ll start looking at the bit that comes before the problem behaviour. This is the behaviour that starts as soon as your dog realises that he is going to be left alone. This stage is absolutely vital as anxiety compounds and the calmer your dog is when you walk out the door, the better his chance of coping while you’re gone.

Changing their expectation!

So, next time you prepare to leave him alone, take note of all the changes in his behaviour, no matter how small. Look out for any signs of anxiety such as lip licking, avoidance behaviour, panting, general naughtiness, body position, muscle tension, vocalisations – literally anything at all (the dog pictured is very anxious).

Lips pulled back is an early sign of anxiety, as is drooling and panting

Note all the triggers. In particular, be alert when you pick up keys, change shoes, say goodbye, get out his kong, move his bed, take him for a pee, literally anything that happens in the lead up before you go. He’ll be very good at spotting the triggers, even the subtle ones, so watch him like a hawk.

Useful reading... Learn more about managing mood not behaviour

Make a detailed Diary

So, make a note of the trigger, all the new behaviours associated with that trigger, the intensity of the behaviour, and his stress levels. Do this every time you leave the house so you can build up a picture of his behaviour. Then, when you come home do the same – note the stress levels, intensity, time it takes to settle, and his behaviour while he calms.

This diary will become very useful when we move into the next stages so keep it as detailed as you can.


I have more than 15 years experience solving all kinds of canine behaviour problems, at home and in rescue. A bad experience with a old fashioned dog trainer inspired me to learn more about dog behaviour, and it is because of him, that I wall never use harsh methods when training and rehabilitating dogs.

I work privately with clients in Dundee and the surrounding area with dogs of all ages, breeds and issues including anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity.

In 2009 I was proud to publish a book about dog behaviour and training. How to be the Perfect Pack Leader (by Caroline Jenkins) remains popular today and a follow up is expected very shortly.

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