Separation anxiety

Posted by Okanagan-pet-lover
Oct 6, 2008
I have a 23 month old male neutered Lowchen. We have had him since he was 6 months old. He cries and howls whenever he is left alone. I am home most of the time, so he is not left every day. I thought that he would outgrow this, but I've been told that it's the breed. I can't leave any windows open when we go anywhere, because my neighbours have told me that he carries on almost non-stop, no matter how long we are gone. We also can't leave him alone in our 5th wheel trailer when we are camping, because he would disturb everyone. If it's not too hot outside we take him in our truck and can leave him in there while we shop or have something to eat, and he seems to be OK then. He lies down and naps, no howling. Any ideas as to how to stop this behaviour???
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Dec 26, 2009
Hi there,

Separation anxiety is quite common amongst dogs that are used to spending a lot of time with their owners, but does need to be addressed as soon as possible to prevent it from becoming a long term problem.

Firstly, you need to make it clear to your dog that the howling is unacceptable. When he starts howling, put him into a 'time-out zone' without speaking to him or even making eye contact. Leave him there until he stops howling, and then go and praise him lavishly and give him a treat for being quiet. You may have to put up with quite a bit of howling at first, but he will soon learn that he is rewarded when he is silent. If he never does this when you are around, you may have to pretend to leave the house a few times so that you can catch him in the act. Make sure you are not making a big fuss of him when you leave, as this will only magnify the significance of being left alone in his eyes.

At the same time, when you do leave the house, it would be advisable to give him some toys to keep him occupied. Some suggestions include chew toys or pigs' ears. You may also want to consider feeding him his meals in a 'kong ball' so he has to work for it, and it will distract him for a while. By doing this, you are side-tracking him whilst he is alone so that eventually he will come to realize that there is nothing to worry about even if he is left by himself in the house.

Another thing you could also try is teaching him the 'sit-stay' command, getting him to do this in a relaxed fashion. By making him stay for longer and longer periods at a time, he will get used to staying in one spot, alert yet still relaxed. You should eventually be able to leave him in a separate room for a considerable length of time and return to find him still in the same spot. Don't forget to make a huge fuss of him when he obeys so that he will be very keen to do so again next time.

It is important that you don't give him attention when he asks for it, but only when you feel that he has behaved himself, as this will make it all the more meaningful when you do praise him. Leave him to last when it comes to greeting everyone when you come home, which will reinforce your alpha dog status in the pack as well as minimizing the significance of you leaving the house.

Hope this helps and all the best with the training! I look forward to hearing how it goes