Hope for Dogs with Separation Anxiety

Lynn sitting with her dog Freddy.

By Lynn Brearey, BS, CPDT-KA, CSAT

Oscar Finds Himself at Home Alone!

Oscar is a sweet dachshund. He was adopted by Kyle and Jamie in October 2021, when they were both working from home due to the Pandemic. But, when the time came for his family to return to their job sites, Oscar started showing signs of anxiety when they were getting ready to leave the house.

After purchasing a camera and watching Oscar while they were at work, they discovered that Oscar was panicked the entire day. Oscar found himself home alone for the first time and he didn’t do well. Oscar paced, he cried, scratched at the door, and had lots of accidents in the home even though he was fully house-trained. His family tried so many things from calming supplements to different medications prescribed by their Vet. None of these were helping Oscar’s panic attack.

Oscar’s dad Kyle read up on Separation Anxiety and realized that Oscar had all the symptoms. Symptoms can include barking, whining, pacing, and salivating more than usual. Dogs with Separation Anxiety do not like to be crated and may even harm themselves breaking out of the crate. Destructive behavior sometimes happens as well.

Oscar’s Separation Anxiety Training Begins

Eager to help Oscar they reached out to me for help. As a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer, I use a method that has worked for hundreds of other dogs with this condition. Kyle, Jamie, and I developed a training plan for Oscar using systematic desensitization.
Oscar had Separation Anxiety, but he has now overcome it. Yes, Separation Anxiety can be overcome by your dog with the right training. Separation Anxiety is a panic attack in your otherwise wonderful dog that happens only when he or she is left alone. It is more common than you think. Sometimes the first time you realize something is wrong is when a neighbor, or your landlord let you know that your dog was barking all day.

Separation Anxiety – It Takes a Village

Separation Anxiety is a debilitating condition that likely causes some disruptive behavior in your pup and in your home. Your dog is not upset with you; he’s basically having panic attacks that are truly terrifying when he is left alone.

Systematic Desensitization is gradual exposure to what is causing panic, being left alone. It is the method we used to help Oscar to feel safe and calm when at home alone. It didn’t happen overnight, and it took some patience and commitment from Kyle and Jamie, but after 6 weeks of training, Oscar was able to stay home alone comfortably for 47 minutes!

At that point, Kyle and Jamie had learned the process and were able to continue systematic desensitization training with Oscar on their own. I was still available to them for check ins every week or so.

Some Good News – Oscar Overcomes Separation Anxiety

On May 3rd, Kyle contacted me to let me know that Oscar made it over 2 hours during a
reassessment. We were all so excited!!

More good news followed. About 2 weeks later Kyle and Jamie contacted me to say: “Oscar did a whole 7-hour workday at home by himself yesterday and he did great. No panic!” 

If you have a dog that is showing signs of Separation Anxiety, don’t wait, there is help for your dog. Life can be a whole lot better at home for everyone.

Oscar the Dog

Just ask Oscar!

Oscar and his family