Back to school: Separation anxiety and pets

by | General Pet Care |

With the school season back in full swing, your family will all be adjusting to the new schedule – and that includes your pets! 

Your pet may need time to adjust to the change in schedule. Separation anxiety can occur for pets when they are used to having you around all the time. Here are some symptoms of separation anxiety. 

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety 

Some symptoms of this condition includes doing any of the below when left alone: 

  • Urinating and Defecating 
  • Barking and Howling 
  • Chewing, Digging and Destruction of household 
  • Escaping from where confined when left alone or separated from guardian. 
  • Pacing in a fixed pattern when separated 
  • Coprophagia, when the dog defecates and consumes all or some of their excrement. 

If these actions are done out of separation anxiety, they typically are not performed in front of the guardian. 

Tips to help prevent separation anxiety  
  • Keep a schedule to fulfil your dog’s physical and social needs through daily activities such as play, positive reinforcement training, leashed walks, & environmental enrichment.  
  • Teach your dog to be comfortable being left alone or separated from you by a doggy gate or a door.  
  • If you spend most of your day at home with your dog, make sure to give them some space, as receiving constant attention can make it harder for them when you leave.  
  • Plan alone time for your dog each day while you pick up groceries, take a short drive, or take a shower. 
  • Offer your dog a food puzzle toy when you are leaving to give them something fun to do.  
  • Play calming music such as classical or species-specific music at times throughout the day and when you leave home. 
  • Reward your dog for any calm behaviour. 
  • Make your arrivals and departures calm. Avoid high emotional responses when you leave the house or when you first arrive home. 

For information on this topic, take a look at the ASPCA’s post on Separation Anxiety Or visit  

To learn tips on overcoming this anxiety with your pet, read our blog: How to Help a Pet with Separation Anxiety. 

For more information on the condition, read: Anxiety, pets, and mental health. 

You can also take a look at Tips for Successful Crate Training.