As mentioned earlier, separation anxiety is very complex – there is no simple ‘if-your-pet-is-doing-this-then’ type answer. Signs and symptoms that could indicate separation anxiety could also be indicative of other issues, ailments, stresses, or even simply boredom. Because of this, we would strongly recommend seeking out a reputable trainer or animal behaviourist for further guidance and for advice specifically tailored to your animal and your situation. While we and others can do our best to offer advice, dozens of factors specific to you and your pet could be working in combination, and speaking to an expert will be the best way to manage these.
With that said, there are some common behaviours that could indicate separation anxiety that are worth looking out for, including; toileting indoors; chewing, scratching or destruction of soft furnishings and other household items; and uncharacteristic whining, howling and barking.
While these are, of course, undesirable behaviours, it’s very important to not punish your pet for exhibiting them – feeding fear with more fear will only serve to worsen the problem as they can then develop not only a fear of separation, but also a fear of punishment on your return.
Rather, see the behaviour as your pet communicating to you that they need your help.
Your pet may also exhibit less obvious signs of stress, which can be difficult to diagnose – especially as they’ll only start showing them when we’re, well, separated from them. To get around this issue, many trainers and behaviourists will recommend investing in and using a remotely controlled camera to observe your pet and look for signs of stress and anxiety. Products like this are widely available, with many connecting to your home Wi-Fi network and offering a live feed via an app or website. Some even dispense treats!
Signs of a stressed animal can be subtle and not always easily identified. Pacing around the house or holding their tail between their legs might be easy to spot, but seemingly normal functions like lip licking or yawning could be a sign of stress too. As above, this is where a reputable trainer or animal behaviourist will be invaluable to you, being able to spot signs of stress or anxiety before they develop into those more serious and undesirable behaviours mentioned above.