Other Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Watchful Waiting

When left alone, a dog with separation anxiety might spend a lot of time standing or sitting by the door, or staring out the window, waiting for their person to come home. Also called environment orientation, watchful waiting is sometimes seen with other symptoms of separation anxiety, such as vocalizing, pacing, panting or destructiveness.

To learn if your dog’s behavior is a sign of separation anxiety, take our quick, free quiz.

Other Causes of Watchful Waiting

It’s normal for a dog to look at the door or out the window if something catches their interest, such as a delivery person, a passer-by or other animal (squirrel!). A dog that stares out the window could be bored and looking for something to do.

Decoding This Behavior

Wondering if your dog is “watchfully waiting” when you’re gone? We recommend setting up a pet camera so you can see what they’re up to. Here are some things to look for: 

  • How long after you leave does the behavior start?
  • How long do they stare at the door or out the window?
  • Do they settle down in between episodes?
  • Are there any external factors (sights or sounds) that might be triggering their behavior?
  • Are they showing other symptoms of separation anxiety, such as vocalizing, pacing, panting or destructiveness?

Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?

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Barking

Barking

Destruction

Destruction

Potty Accidents

Potty Accidents

Panting

Dogs pant to cool themselves down after exercise or when the temperatures are toasty. But a dog that pants excessively when left alone could be suffering from separation anxiety. Anxious panting is usually faster and louder than regular panting and can be accompanied by other symptoms of separation anxiety, such as vocalizing, pacing, watchful waiting or destructiveness.  

Knowing your dog’s respiration rate and what normal panting looks like for them can help you determine if their panting is abnormal. (A healthy dog averages 24 breaths per minute — more or less, depending on their size. Normal panting is about 10 times that rate.)

 To learn if your dog’s behavior is a sign of separation anxiety, take a quick quiz.

Other Causes of Panting

  • If you notice your dog panting more than usual, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away to examine your dog has an underlying medical condition. Excessive panting can be a sign of heat stroke or other medical problem, such as chronic pain, an injury or allergic reaction, bloat, laryngeal paralysis or heart disease. 
  • Flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, are prone to heavier breathing. 
  • A dog that that hears or sees something outside might get excited or anxious and start panting.

Decoding Your Dog’s Panting Behavior

To find out if your dog is panting excessively when you’re gone, we recommend setting up a pet camera. Here are some things to look for: 

  • How long after you leave does your dog start panting?
  • Do they pant occasionally or constantly?
  • Are there any external factors (sights or sounds) that might be triggering their panting?
  • Are they showing other symptoms of separation anxiety, such as pacing or destructiveness?

Self Harming

Some dogs with separation anxiety will constantly lick, chew or scratch their paws, legs or tail area when left alone. Also called acral lick dermatitis, this compulsive behavior can lead to hair loss, inflamed skin, sores and even open wounds. 

To learn if your dog’s behavior is a sign of separation anxiety, take a quick quiz.

Other Causes of Self-Harming

  • Make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out an underlying medical condition.Dogs that repeatedly lick, chew or scratch themselves might have arthritis, allergies, skin mites, an infection, hypothyroidism or even a nutrient deficiency. Self-harming can also be caused by a compulsive disorder unrelated to separation anxiety.
  • Dogs sometimes lick, chew or scratch themselves as a way to burn off excess energy. Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise. Mental enrichment toys, such as a stuffed Kong or food puzzle, can also keep your dog busy and happy when you’re gone.

Regardless of the cause, it’s important to treat any open sores to prevent a secondary infection. To discourage self-harming, you can cover the area with gauze and a self-adhesive bandage wrap (when under direct supervision), use an anti-lick spray, or try an Elizabethan collar. 

Excessive Greetings

Getting a happy, excited greeting from your dog when you come home is normal (and heart-warming). However, excessive greetings can be a sign of separation anxiety if your dog has trouble calming down within a couple of minutes — despite your attempts to ignore or discourage their behavior through training commands. Your dog may continuously whine, bark, jump or paw at you. If the anxiety is severe, your dog may urinate, body-slam or even bite you. In dogs with separation anxiety, excessive greetings are typically seen with watchful waiting and shadowing behaviors.

To learn if your dog’s behavior is a sign of separation anxiety, take our quiz.

Other Causes of Excessive Greetings

  • Dogs take their cues from us: If you’re super-excited, your dog will be, too. Try keeping your greetings low-key and wait until your dog has settled down before you give them attention.
  • Lack of physical exercise and mental stimulation can lead to overly excited homecomings. Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise. A long walk right before you leave can help. Mental enrichment toys, such as a stuffed Kong or food puzzle, can also keep your dog busy and happy when you’re gone.
  • A dog that barks, jumps and mouths during greetings might not have learned what to do instead. A certified dog trainer or behavior consultant can help teach your dog a calm greeting routine.
  • Urinating during greetings — called submissive urination or excitement urination — is common in puppies that are still working on their bladder control. This can also happen in dogs that are anxious around people. (Some medical conditions can cause involuntary urination when a dog is excited. If your dog is urinating during greetings, consider a trip to your veterinarian.)

 Other Anxiety-Related Resources

Options for Treating Separation Anxiety

If your dog’s vocalization is due to separation anxiety, there are options for treatment, including the Calmer Canine Anxiety Treatment System, behavior modification training, compression wearables, and more.

Lasting Effectiveness: The solution lasts even when the dog is no longer exposed to the solution 
Proof: Does the solution have clinical scientific proof, including statistically significant positive results proven in a clinical study on dogs with separation anxiety – showing that it is effective for treating separation anxiety?
Less than $300/Year: Does the solution cost less than $300 per year?
No Side Effects: Is the solution free of side effects?
Less than 30 Minutes/Day: Does the solution take 30 minutes or less per day?
Ease of Use: Is the solution easy for the typical pet owner to use?