Dog with separation anxiety growls at owner

Hi Cesar!

My little Frankie is three years old. I have had him since he was born. I have never had a problem with his behavior until the past few months. It seems every time that I leave the house to go to work or go out on the weekends to run errands he gets upset. He does not destroy anything in the house, but when I go over to him to say to goodbye and pet him right before I leave the house he growls at me. The first time it happened I was shocked and let it go. But now it occurs all the time, and I am not sure how I am supposed to handle this aggressive behavior. Can you tell me why all of sudden he would have changed his behavior? Is it a reaction to something I am doing or maybe not doing?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

C. DiPalo
Long Island, NY

Cesar’s advice for aggressive dog separation anxiety

Hello DiPalo,

When your dog growls at you as you approach, he’s already showing you “I’m tense, I’m nervous, I’m fearful, I’m unsure,” and if you continue to move forward, this reaction will only intensify. The best thing we can do for a dog in this state of mind is to give them space – to ignore that aggressive behavior; let him deal with it and eventually, because you’re not nurturing it, it will go away. Remember, when we say “goodbye” to our dogs before we leave, it’s often to fulfill our own, very human feelings of guilt and anticipation. If you can’t help yourself and you must say goodbye, try to say goodbye earlier, before he is in that troubled state of mind. This way, you’re fulfilling your own need to love your dog without encouraging the unwanted aggressive behavior that you’re seeing when you say goodbye right before you leave for the day.

Stay calm and assertive,

Cesar Millan

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