Helping an adopted dog with separation anxiety


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Helping an adopted dog with separation anxiety

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

In April, I adopted a retired four-year-old greyhound. I named him Geo. He suffers from extreme separation anxiety. He barks and whines when I am away. I tried doing the limited time apart, but after an hour, he reverts back to whining and barking.

I purchased a new larger kennel and started letting him sleep in it with the door closed when we go to bed. He has gotten used to not sleeping in the same room, but he still doesn’t like being alone for a long time during the day. I’m thinking of getting him another dog, so he won’t be alone when I leave. What do you think?

— David, Tamarac, Florida

Dear David,

Kudos to you for adopting a former racing dog. With Florida’s new ban on racing, there will be many greyhound dogs adjusting to new homes. Adopting a second dog can sometimes help, but you’re right, there’s no guarantee.

I like that you’re “kennel training” Geo. Sometimes, anxious dogs benefit from having their own space. I wouldn’t put him in it all night though, because being away from you both day and night may make his daytime anxiety worse. Instead, use it for short periods during the day, preferably no more than an hour or two, and only after you have trained Geo to be comfortable in it while you are still home. Over time, his kennel will become a happy retreat that will comfort him when you are away from home.

Next, get a Kong treat toy and put some peanut butter in it and freeze it. Whenever you leave, take the Kong toy out and give it to your dog, especially when he’s in the kennel. It’s important to keep his mind busy while you’re away.

I also recommending plugging in some canine pheromones around the house and asking your vet about anxiety-reducing medications. Short-term, medications, when combined with other techniques, can help him adjust better to his new home.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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