Curbing Separation Anxiety Following the Holidays

Woman petting two golden retrievers in her home

If you get the opportunity to spend extra quality time with your dog during the holiday break, the worry of separation anxiety when returning to the swing of things may have crossed your mind. With a new year can bring new habits. Some of these habits can be centered around ensuring your fur baby doesn’t start developing separation anxiety as you return to your everyday routine.


What is separation anxiety?

Separation stress, also called separation anxiety, is a term applied to a variety of behaviors that can occur when a dog is left alone. The severity of separation stress and behaviors associated with this issue vary among dogs. But common symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs include clinginess, pacing, panting, vocalization (whining, barking or howling), inability to settle, hovering near doors, and house-soiling (accidents). In severe cases, dogs may become destructive, hurt themselves or attempt to escape.

Tips to prevent separation anxiety

  • Practice separation: Help your dog get used to being alone and know you’re always coming home by leaving for short periods at a time
  • Provide distractions: Ease loneliness and boredom by leaving music or TV on when you leave
  • Let them settle: When returning home, say hello, but wait until your pup settles down before engaging with a game, going out, or offering extra attention.
  • Establish a routine: You can help put your dog’s mind at ease when they know what to expect. On the days that you can, stick to a routine for you and your dog to follow.
  • Exercise first: Before you head out for the day, take your dog out for some exercise – a tired dog is less likely to experience stress and time together can help you feel better about leaving them alone
  • Get outside help: Give your dog a day of exercise and socialization at a dog day care like Camp Bow Wow or find a neighbor or dog walker to check in on your dog during the day. Additionally, be sure to talk with your veterinarian (or a VCA veterinarian) about your dog’s separation anxiety and any other health or behavioral concerns if needed.
  • If your dog is missing you, there is a good chance you are missing them too. For those who take their pups to day care or boarding at Camp Bow Wow, there are the live Camper Cams for paw-rents to check on their dog throughout the day and see all the fun they are having!


Getting back into everyday life after a holiday break can be ruff, but hopefully with these tips you prevent separation anxiety with your dog as you get back into routine.