My Smart Puppy

with Dog Expert, Sarah Wilson

On Vacation: Bring, Board, or Leave at Your Separation Anxiety Dog Home?


It is hard for many of us to leave our dog and extra hard to leave our separation anxiety dog. Where do you leave him? What is the safest, least potentially damaging option?

Counter-intuitively to many, it is usually boarding your dog. And here’s why: If you leave him at home and hire a pet sitter, you run a big risk of escalating his anxiety whenever you leave the house in the future. Now he knows that sometimes you actually do not return at night and knowing this can skyrocket his symptoms.

Why not bring him along? Sometimes you can if you are, say, camping and he is with you 24/7 (all day, everyday). But leave your SA dog alone in a new and unknown location and expect him to panic beyond what he does at home.

So, the best choice? Board him. “Why,” you ask, when he will be so frightened and upset? True, he may well be but that fear and upset will be triggered by that location – not by being at home or left in a motel.

If your dog is social and friendly, you can leave him at a facility that offers group play, which might go a long way to releasing any of his tension and letting him have a fine old time. He may actually learn how to accept crating at “camp” when it is done on schedule, in a matter-of-fact way and when he is truly tired.

If the kennel is an indoor/outdoor run set-up, ask for a “covered run” (one with a secure top on it) if your dog has any potential to climb. Better safe than sorry.

Now go – plan a vacation and enjoy. Your dog will survive the experience and may even be better for it. That would be a win/win for all concerned.

by Sarah Wilson

Author of handbooks: My Smart Puppy (book with DVD) and Childproofing Your Dog


  1. My husband and I both work. We have a new puppy who has separation anxiety. When I return home his mouth is very wet like he’s been drooling excessively. How can I alleviate his anxiety to where he will calm down. I’ve never experienced this before and want to give him the assurance that I will return. Indy is a 10 week old Portuguese Podengo.

  2. Hello, my dog suffers from severe seperation anxiety he is a 7 year old Australian Shepard mix he tends to cry and whine a lot when I leave him alone..he recently moved in with me bc he’s been living with my dad his whole life. I’ve been living on my own for 1 year and I am not use to to all this barking and whining that I get so frustrated to tears. He cries when I leave him the my kitchen and barks for my attention when I go upstairs to my bedroom to sleep I haven’t slept in days he only stays quiet when I’m downstairs on the couch by the kitchen at night time. But through out the day I play with him and walk him. I have no idea what to do 🙁

  3. I have an almost 3 yr. old Bichon that howls constantly when left alone. He’s fine if he’s with another person and when we’re home together he’s quite independant. I’m not sure if this is separation anxiety or not. My neighbours are ready to disown me.

    • Hi Tina – Crate training – so you and your dog can practice separation without you leaving the house. And I find that a plastic crate with the front draped with a towel can make things easier on the dog. Good luck! – Sarah

  4. Thanks Sarah. Should I leave him in his crate when I go out? He’s always had free run in the house and doesn’t have any destructive behaviors. That’s why I was wondering if his howling is really due to separation anxiety.

  5. Hello. I have a 11-year-old mix breed. Looks like a beagle in a golden retriever coat. I work at home so I’m always around her. Yet when I leave she has been a mess lately. It doesn’t matter if my wife and two young kids are home. If I’m not she is a mess. She has been peeing and pooping in the house after I leave and barking incessantly. I’ve been reading online about doggie Prozac. Have you had any luck with that??? Please help

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