TIP #1: WHAT DOES A SHY DOG LOOK LIKE?
Shy and fearful dogs might show their feelings by cowering, rolling onto their back, shaking, urinating, hiding, ducking, backing away, or going still. Other shy dogs have learned that growling, snarling, or barking will make the scary thing or person move farther away. Many people mistake these behaviors for aggression or protectiveness.
TIP #2: SEPARATION ANXIETY OR BOREDOM?
So how do you know whether your dog actually has a separation issue? After all, many dogs seem hyper-attached to their owners, and when left alone, destroy things. Destruction, inappropriate elimination, and incessant vocalizing are some of the most common signs of a separation issue, but they must be assessed in context with the rest of the dog's behavior.
In some cases, destructive efforts will be focused on exit points such as doors and windows, or on items belonging to owners. For example, you come home to find that your dog has chewed up a paperback book you were reading or a hand towel (items which retain your scent). Or your dog claws or chews at the door where you exited or the window that offers a view of your car pulling away. Those behaviors are more likely to be related to a separation issue than would an act such as chewing up a picture frame (unless it holds a photo of you and your dog cuddling, in which case you have an extremely clever and melancholy dog). Still, even scent-related or escape-focused actions are not conclusive evidence of a separation issue and must be assessed in context.
One identifying factor in the diagnosis of a true separation issue is that stress-related behaviors occur each and every time the dog is left alone.
- excerpted from Don't Leave Me
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI