How to Stop Your Dachshund From Barking, Scratching and Peeing When You Leave the House
It’s difficult dealing with a Dachshund who has separation anxiety.
Unfortunately, many people experience their Dachshund acting out when they leave the house but don’t know it’s anxiety that’s causing their dog to “be bad”.
If your Dachshund is doing these things when you leave the house, they might have separation anxiety:
- Excessively barking or howling
- Destroying furniture by chewing and scratching
- Scratching doors or windows
- Going potty in the house (especially if you’ve only been gone for a short time)
- Pacing, drooling, or panting
- Trying to escape
I’ve learned over the years to recognize pretty quickly when a dog might be experiencing separation anxiety but I don’t know much about dealing with it.
Because it’s a very common issue with dogs, and with Dachshunds in particular, I turned to my friend Tracy for advice.
Tracy Krulik, CTC, CSAT is a Certified canine separation anxiety trainer who works with clients remotely so that she is able to help dogs and their families all over the world. She’s the founder and managing editor of iSpeakDog — a website and public awareness campaign to teach dog body language and behavior. An honors graduate of the prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers,
Krulik has written for publications including The Bark magazine and The Washington Post. She is an advocate for force-free dog training and loves helping fearful dogs discover confidence and joy — just as she did for her once “fraidy” pup, Emma the Beagle.
Tracy Recommends This Technique to Cure Separation Anxiety in Dachshunds
The barking, the howling, the accidents indoors, the damage to door frames and window ledges, and even the injuries from dogs trying desperately to get out of their crates—separation anxiety can be devastating to the dogs, the people who live with them, and even the people who live near them.
Sadly, Dachshund guardians are no stranger to this problem. In a survey of 1005 Dachshund homes by the website iheartdogs.com, 51% of the respondents said their pups suffered from either severe or moderate separation anxiety.
How heartbreaking to think that one out of every two Dachshunds could be terrified when left alone.
But I have good news: separation anxiety is treatable.
I have seen it personally with my own pup, Emma the Beagle, who was petrified if left home alone for 10 seconds, but now has no problem being left alone for four or five hours, and as a certified separation anxiety trainer, I see it every day with my clients.
Been There, Tried That
Over the course of our first year with our sweet Emma, my husband and I tried so hard to settle her down when we left her home alone, but we kept failing.
We tried waiting for her to stop barking to walk back into the condo, so that she would learn that only keeping quiet would bring us home.
We tried leaving her stuffed Kongs, but she wouldn’t eat. We tried teaching Emma to relax in her bed and reward her for staying put. We tried pheromone diffusers, lavender oil, Thunder Shirts, and even therapeutic massages, but none of that helped.
In fact, as the year progressed, Emma’s fear got worse.
So how did we solve the problem? Desensitization.
What Does Work to Treat Separation Anxiety in Dogs? Systematic Desensitization
Separation anxiety is a phobia — no different than a fear of spiders or heights. Just as I shrieked in terror when those big, furry, mini-tarantula-looking monsters ran towards me in my childhood home, dogs with separation anxiety are doing the same. They’re flat out petrified.
And the method we use to help people overcome fears is the same method we use for dogs — desensitization.
Without meaning to, moving to a house in the suburbs has helped desensitize me to spiders. When we first got here, there were easily 40 massive dead spiders in the garage.
After a week of wishing they would disappear, I accepted that the only way they would leave my sight was if I did something about it.
So, I grabbed my broom and started sweeping. At first, my heart raced, and I was covered in goosebumps. But the more I swept, the more I realized that nothing bad was happening to me.
When I saw a live spider in my basement a few weeks later, I didn’t scream! In fact, I was able to grab a cup and piece of cardboard, and I actually transported the little monster outside.
This same method is how Emma overcame her separation anxiety.
Find the Fear Threshold Line for Your Dog
We first had to figure out where Emma’s “fear threshold” was. What is the dividing line between where Emma can stay cool, calm, and collected and where she panics?
It turned out that Emma blew a gasket at 10 seconds. For some dogs it’s a few seconds, others it’s five minutes, others it’s 30. Each dog is individual.
We used a video camera to watch Emma’s body language to find her line. Just before she gets really scared, Emma licks her lips, and yawns. As her fear progresses, her brow furrows, her pupils dilate, she whimpers and whines, and then the full fireworks explode.
Because every dog shows fear differently, you have to become somewhat of a master at reading body language to get this right. The clues can be very subtle.
At least in the beginning, therefore, I recommend working with a certified trainer to set you down the path correctly.
Desensitizing Your Dachshund: Break It Down
Once we knew where Emma’s threshold was, we did a series of practice absences for about 30 minutes a day — all under that threshold line.
On the first day, we did stuff like:
- Walk to door, open door 1-inch, close door, sit back down (wait 30-90 seconds)
- Walk to door, fully open/close door, sit back down (wait)
- Grab keys, walk into mudroom but don’t touch the door, sit back down (wait)
- Walk to door, step outside for 1 second, return, sit back down…
Like I had done when I swept dead spiders who couldn’t chase me, we kept Emma feeling safe the whole time. By doing so, we were able to teach Ems that us walking out the door is nothing to fear.
Over time we increased how long we were away.
By using the video camera, we could watch Emma’s body language to see that, “Wow! I was gone for five minutes, and Emma is totally chill!” And then eventually, 10 minutes, and then 17 minutes, and one day 40 minutes, and another day an hour, and eventually, where we are today: five hours!
Progress at Your Dachshund’s Pace
Have you figured out the catch?
Yes. The only way we were finally able to make any progress in helping our dog overcome her fear was to only leave her home alone for as long as she could handle. At first that meant less than 10 seconds.
Thankfully, the world is full of wonderful people, and my husband and I were able to build a support network of friends and professional pet sitters who would keep Emma company when we couldn’t be home.
Emma is scared around other dogs, so doggie daycare was not an option for us, but for many sep-anx dogs, it’s a great solution.
In truth, well before we starting this training, my husband and I had already stopped leaving Emma home alone. It was too painful for all of us.
The more people I encounter with sep-anx pups, the more I’m finding that we are not unique. Most of these people are already not leaving their scared dogs alone too.
So, the training ends up becoming therapeutic for both the pups and the people who love them.
Work with Your Veterinarian
For many dogs — Dachshunds included — anti-anxiety medications can help the process go so much faster.
I used to think of meds as a “last case scenario,” and so I fought against using them for Emma. But without them, Emma kept suffering regressions. She’d start to build duration, and then suddenly she would freak out again as if we had never trained her at all.
Once we worked with our vet to get Emma on appropriate supplements and medications, though, she started flying through the training.
Essentially, with the veterinarian’s help, we washed away the top level of panic that had always been shrouding Emma, so that she could finally relax, think clearly, and learn.
The medication on its own will likely not cure a dog’s separation anxiety, but as we saw with Ems, it can sure speed up the process when paired with training.
If you are interested in complimentary 30-minute phone consultation to discuss how the training works, and determine if it’s the right fit for you, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
We have a 3 year old dachshund that I need to determine if he suffers from separation disorder or anxiety or both. He licks and chews things he should not, other that he is the perfect pet. He does not bark or howls uncontrollably, or pees inside the house (he never did that), so I’m not sure what exactly his issue is, but I need some help for me and us…..
My daughter has multis dog and if lately Bentley has been scratching at my door and barking like crazy he is left in the home for a long period of time by him self and I’m pretty sure he is lonely what can we do for him
Hi Deborah. It definitely sounds like Bentley may have separation anxiety. This article outlines what you can do to help him with that. You could also consult with a dog behaviorist if you aren’t making progress on your own.
Besides medications, what are my options?? We have a dog walker but can’t have someone here every 10 minutes. One dog pees then the others follow, even if they have just spent 5 hours outside. Any advice is welcome. ..
Hi Crystal. Most of this article is about the other solution for separation anxiety – and the fist one that should be tried; medication is a last resort – called Systematic Desensitization. It’s also really helped with my dogs to put them in their crate when I am gone. Dogs most often will not “soil their den” so it literally keeps them from going potty in the house when you are gone. They learned to see this crate as their safe space too, which helped calm their anxiety.
My Louise and I are both having separation anxiety. I’ve been home since mid March. I occasionally need to go out without her. She would get her crate no problem previously. I bought a camera and stopped using it I can’t focus seeing her bark and upset. I’m trying calming chews. Did everything you did years ago… thunder jacket, pheromones etc. Currently I’m using a sound machine. Eventually I will have to get back to normal. She will be 10 this month.
Hi Jennifer. The tips in this article are what most dog trainers recommend. For further help, and a little bit different training method and way of looking at things, check out the book “I’ll Be Right Back! How To Overcome Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety And Regain Your Freedom”. The author also has a Facebook group you can join for help here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/separationanxietydogsupport
Have a 5 yr old dashaund winston since 8 weeks. Recently took on his brother who turns 6 in june. I’ve had him for a month. But have recently found ralphie peeing and having anxiety issues when I leave for work. Today I’ve found him scratching at my door taking paint off. I’m going to cage both off them bc it’s getting bad. Have any thoughts or help
This article presents some of the best tips. This is my personal experience though: My Dachshund Gretel has severe anxiety but it started getting better when I put her in a crate. I did a little bit of desensitizing training but what made the biggest difference was getting her an open-wire create (I did NOT cover it as some suggest because that freaked her out) and giving her a stuffed treat toy when I left. In the meantime, when I had to leave her and she got anxious, at least she could tear up the house. What worked for me doesn’t work for everyone though. Good luck. I hope you can work through it.
My mini daschund she is 2 years old she suffer anxiety I am very worry about her sometimes I have to go for a couple days I need help
Hi Alba. I would try giving calming chews or treats while you are gone. Composure and Composure Pro from Vetriscience are good. I use CBD for my dogs in stressful situations like that. You can read more about what we use here:https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/can-cbd-oil-help-calm-my-anxious-dog/
Great advice in this article and something I am currently working through with my own dachshund who has developed quite severe separation anxiety from me. He is getting on well with being in his crate and I am building him up to being alone for short periods of time – we’re up to about 15min without any signs of going over his threshold which is good. The other issue I am having is that he panics when I leave, even when someone is with him. When my partner is home, I try to go and do errands, but once my dachs hits his threshold (about 30-40mins in this scenario) my partner says he becomes very anxious, whines, howls, and searches all around the house for me. When I come home, he is excited and once he calms down, he happily snuggles up with my partner. Any advice on handling this particular anxiety?
Hi Elle. That also sounds like separation anxiety but specifically to you and the reaction is delayed due to someone else being there with him. It sounds like you are on the right track with purposely leaving him with your partner. Like with leaving him totally alone, just work to increase the time away without him reacting. CBD can help with anxiety of you’re comfortable with that option. I find the VetriScience Composure works well too. In both cases, you need to give 2-3 times the recommended dose in order for it to help with anxiety. Also, if you know he’s good up to about 30 minutes, at about 20 minutes, have your partner give him a stuffed treat toy to distract him from you being gone. Be sure to do it before he starts to show any clear signs of anxiety because, if he’s too stressed, he will likely be disinterested. The stuffed treat toy may be able to extend your time away without setting him off. Good luck.
I have a dash/beagle..who is stuck on my wife..fallows her everywhere.in the apt. If my wife moves .she moves ..even to the bathroom .we can’t even leave the apt..if she knows we’re leaving.she starts shaking.before anyone leaves..she barks.and how’s ..and tairs up.the carpet.doors..and even if we leave for only 5 sec..she goes crazy..and she’s started loosening her hair on her head./chest..and when we do get home ..she barks and yelps.and jumps on everyone she is spoiled to all end.by us..i need help …i really don’t feel like moving ..or getting rid of her..please help..thanks..
Hi Todd. If you feel like you have tried separation anxiety counter-conditioning and training techniques with no results, the next step would be to consult with a dog trainer or animal behaviorist. The issue is fixable with some patience and trial and error.