Separation Anxiety and Your Dog: How to Help

Tips from Petmania Puppy Clubs’ expert Dawn Greer

Whether it’s returning to the office or going back to school, leaving a puppy or adult dog at home alone isn’t an easy task. Dawn Greer, agility trainer and fifteen-year competitor representing Ireland in agility at Crufts, World Agility Championships and the European Open gives her expert advice on how to deal with separation anxiety in adult dogs and puppies. What to do and how to help your furry friend.

Dawn Greer is an expert contributor to Petmania’s Puppy Club, a free online resource for new puppy owners, offering her expertise and advice. She explains that teaching dogs it’s okay to be left alone and that there’s no need to panic is essential. Likewise, owners must understand their puppy is not barking mad! They simply love and miss having their family around.

Owners can prepare their dogs in the weeks before going back to work by building up the length of time the dog or puppy is left on its own gradually. Pet parents must give their dogs time to adjust to the new environment, setting out a daily routine, incorporating exercise and spending quality time with them after school or work will help.


Pet owners should consider Petmania’s top tips

  • Bring the dog for a walk before work. A tired dog is much more likely to relax and sleep than a dog that’s full of energy. Depending on the dog’s age this should be a walk of at least 45 minutes – if the dog is too young a long walk length the playing or training can mentally tire them out instead.


  • Interactive toy. There is a selection of interactive toys available made by Kong and other companies that can be stuffed with food which the dog must play interreact with to get access to the food. This will keep the dog entertained as the owner leaves for work making the situation more positive for the dog.


  • Leave a radio on creating background noise in the house. This helps to dampen down the noise from outside helping dogs relax and not constantly on alert.


  • Create a daily routine. Create a routine. Dogs like routine and this also helps them settle. For example:
    • 7:30 am – Get up and walk the dog
    • 8:00 am – Return from the walk and get ready for work
    • 8:30 am – Give the dog an interactive toy and leave for work without making any fuss
    • Noon – Dog walker comes in


Once the dog gets used to their routine they will generally just settle down and sleep after the owners leave for work. This is normal and healthy behaviour for dogs who need much more sleep than their humans.

  • There is a selection of products available which can help some dogs that are a little stressed than others. However, if some pooches have severe separation anxiety in this case seeking help from a qualified dog behaviourist would be beneficial – find one that uses positive methods only. A behaviourist will come to assess the dog at home as the reasons for separation anxiety are varied.

Dawn Greer is an expert contributor to Petmania’s Puppy Club offering her expertise and advice. New puppy owners can sign-up to the Petmania Puppy Club any time before or during the puppy’s first year to receive timely advice tailored to the pup’s age, development stage and upcoming milestones. The club offers step-by-step guidance through a puppy’s first year includes how to choose a puppy, teething, house training, vaccinations, socialising, grooming, diet plus ‘sit, stay, focus’ and lead training. For more information visit: www.petmania.ie/puppy-club.