My Dog Freaks Out When I Leave (What Do I Do?)

By Britt Kascjak

If your dog gets anxious every time you leave, he is likely suffering from separation anxiety. This is a common condition faced by many dogs. But, if it’s not addressed, it can become quite serious. Take some time to desensitize your dog through training and conditioning.

Why Does My Dog Freak Out When I Leave?

Separation anxiety refers to a sense of panic that many dogs feel when being left home alone.

This is more than just being a little upset that their owner is gone. Dogs with separation anxiety become incredibly stressed. They may even injure themselves while trying to escape the home.

Recognizing that your dog is suffering from this disorder is the first step in addressing it.

What Are the Warning Signs of Separation Anxiety?

How do you know if your dog has separation anxiety?

This may seem like a difficult question. After all, by the very definition of the condition, your dog is acting out when you’re not there.

But, there are some signs you can watch for.

These behaviors may be seen as you’re getting ready to leave, or you may find evidence when you return.

The most common signs of separation anxiety include:

  • Excessive barking
  • Agitation, whining, or heavy panting
  • Feeling restless, pacing, unable to settle
  • Urinating, drooling, defecating in the house
  • Chewing or destroying furniture and bedding
  • Escape attempts

In the most extreme cases, your dog may actually cause harm to himself. This often happens during an escape attempt.

Examples include injuries to the mouth from biting at a cage or door frame or broken nails from digging at the floor.

What Can I Do to Help My Dog Calm Down?

Don’t Make a Big Deal Out of Leaving

Many dogs will start to act out the moment that they notice their owner is leaving the house.

This could include putting on your coat or shoes or picking up your keys. He recognizes that those are part of your ritual leaving and knows what comes next.

Don’t make leaving into a big ordeal. In fact, most experts agree that you should ignore your dog during this time.

You can also desensitize your leaving ritual. Try putting on your shoes but then sit down to watch television instead of leaving.

This will help to separate these actions from a stress-inducing departure.

Crate Training

If your dog is destructive, he may end up eating or swallowing something he shouldn’t.

With no one home to save him, this can quickly turn fatal.

The best thing you can do with a destructive dog is to keep him safely contained and away from danger.

Dogs that are properly crate trained will see the crate as a positive thing. Placing your dog in the crate then becomes a calming experience for him.

Over-the-Counter Calming Products

There are many calming treats and supplements available at your local pet store. These use natural ingredients to help put your dog into a calm state.

Calming supplements can come as chews, treats, liquid, or powder.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

If you have tried everything and your dog is still freaking out every time you leave, talk to your vet. Especially if he is harming himself during these times.

Your vet can discuss options like anxiety medication and help you make a decision.

Photo of author
Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.