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7 Reasons Why Your Dog Barks, Howls Or Cries When You Leave

Why Does My Dog Bark Howl Or Cry When I Leave

Are you tired of getting noise complaints from your neighbors every day?

Or your first one is on its way…

After such a long barking frenzy yesterday?

You know your dog’s trying to tell you something. But you can’t point it out.

And all you ever wish right now is for the dramatic departures and stressful arrivals to stop.

Keep on reading to learn:

  • How long can dogs be left alone for.
  • What goes into their minds when you go out.
  • When you should start to be concerned about this behavior.
  • What you should do and how you must act in different situations.
  • And a lot more…

Why does my dog bark, howl or cry when I leave?

Your dog barks, howls, or cries when you leave because they fear being abandoned or they’re scared of something else, they feel lonely, they don’t want to be alone, they can’t stand to be separated from you, or you encourage the behavior. It can also be due to territorial instincts and boredom.

7 reasons why your dog barks, howls or cries when you leave

#1: Your dog fears abandonment

“Oh no, my human’s going outside…

And they’re not coming back for me!”

If your pooch howls nonstop once you’ve set foot outside, it might be a call that they want you back inside.

Even though you’ve told them countless times that you’ll be back, they would still think that you’re not.

It’s because dogs don’t understand that their parents will come home soon. So, they’ll do everything they can to make them return.

This is very common in puppies as they feel anxious and need more time to adjust.

Trivia: In 2019, it’s reported that 1.7 million abandoned dogs went to shelters in the US,  according to a study made by Shelter Animals Count. And about 17% of them are still puppies.

#2: They’re scared of something else

Your Dog Barks Howls Or Cries When You Leave Because They're Scared

Dogs who had a bad experience being left alone may also bark too much. So, it can be a cry for help.

They do it to tell you that something’s bothering them in the house. Or they don’t want to be put in the same situation again.

Your dog might be scared of the huge area. And they might haven’t adjusted to the place yet if they’re a pup, newly moved, or recently adopted.

They might only be used to curling up on a couch or a small mat near the door. And then suddenly, they’re alone in an empty house.

There might also be loud noises coming from the streets or your neighbors when you’re not at home. And those sounds irk them out a lot.

Apart from constant yapping, you’ll know if a dog is afraid when they show these other signs:

  • Pacing.
  • Cowering.
  • Trembling.
  • Lip licking.
  • Flattened ears.
  • Trying to hide.
  • Raised hair on their back.
  • Tucked tail between their legs.

#3: Your dog feels lonely

“Please, come back!”

That’s what your fur baby might be trying to say when you leave home.

They miss you. And they’re heartbroken when you’re gone.

It’s like a kid whining when their parents were out for too long. Because not having them nearby causes uneasiness.

For that reason, your dog might be crying because they know you’ll be gone for hours. And it’s not fine with them. So they express their discomfort by barking.

If you’ve already formed a strong bond with them, it’s only normal for your pooch.

They’re social animals, and PsychologyToday says that, 

“Dogs don’t just tolerate human presence; they actively seek it out.”

So they like spending time with someone. And would get sad when their parents, or if no one is around.

#4: Extreme attachment

Excessive barking?

Destroying things at home? Particularly the front door where you always exit?

If your pooch exhibits them, they might have separation anxiety.

And it’s different from being sad because they miss you.

They would always be in ‘panic mode’ when you’re out of sight. And it can happen even if it’s only for a split second.

Several reasons might cause it. But mostly, it’s due to fear and separation issues.

Aside from excessive barking, here are its other symptoms:

  • Pacing.
  • Digging.
  • Chewing.
  • Salivating.
  • Urinating and pooping in parts of the house.

They will usually show these behaviors 15-30 minutes after you leave, based on a study.

Note: Dogs who were abandoned may have this condition because they fear it might happen again.

#5: Your dog is being territorial

Dogs can also be very protective.

They’re going to guard everything important to them. Whether it’s your home, their food bowl, favorite toy, or even you.

Yes, you’re also included in the ‘guard-protection service’.

And it’s only fitting. Considering that they see you as their favorite human.

So, does your dog bark non-stop once you step out of the door? Or even when you’re outside chatting with the lady next door?

Well, that might be it.

It may usually happen when you’re out with a new friend or neighbor.

Your pooch only wants to scare those strangers off. And sense danger all the time. Or it can also be that the behavior is encouraged. 

#6: It’s a conditioned behavior

Like what the last sentence in the previous reason says, it might be that you tolerated it.

So, your dog thinks it’s right to howl when you go outside. And that it’s a sure win to get your attention.

Usually, a dog’s behavior is a result of whatever is taught to them. Or what their environment made them do.

For example, they know you’re about to leave. So they cry to show you they’re upset.

And when you see them, you always run back and pet them.

As a result, they would think that you’re going to come back every time they call you.

You might also be giving them too much affection before and after coming home. And that’ll make them even more excited and jumpy.

#7: Your dog is bored

Your Dog Is Bored

Sometimes, barking can also translate to “I’m so stressed here. Let me out, please.”

And it’ll also be accompanied by yawning and sleeping a lot.

They might have been getting less exercise these past few days. Or you don’t leave them toys to keep them occupied for the rest of the day.

Also, they might have been left alone for many hours. So it’s only natural for them to feel that way.

Just imagine you’re stuck in the house without anything in it. Not even a TV, your phone, or a book. And you can’t even go outside and take a walk.

Or you’re at work, and your employer doesn’t give you any job to do. So you’re always dreading until your shift ends.

It’s not an ideal situation, is it?

Like humans, they can also get frustrated. And having a ‘task’ or achieving something throughout the day could help get rid of it.

That’s why unhappy dogs may also exhibit destructive behavior, same as those with separation anxiety, like digging or messing up with the trash.

What to do about it

It’s important to know when they usually do this. And what other things they do apart from snarling.

Do they only do it when left alone? Or when you’re gone but they’re with other people?

In this way, you’ll be able to get closer to the root of the issue as there’s a different solution for every problem.

It would be best if you also observe them for a while. And see what things or situations may have caused this behavior.

Also, physical exercises, games, and interactive toys will help a lot in calming them.

When to speak to a behaviorist

If the barking becomes out of hand, along with other signs of separation anxiety, you must seek an expert right away.

Particularly when it’s already affecting their quality of life. And if it causes problems for you and for everyone who’s around.

A dog behaviorist will be able to check your dog. This would help you train them in the right way.

7 scenarios of dogs barking, howling or crying when you leave

#1: My dog barks when I leave the room/house/apartment

As mentioned earlier, dogs think that every time you exit, there’s no coming back.

So they yap to grab your attention, hoping you would return.

It can also be a sign of separation anxiety because they panic when you’re suddenly out of sight.

Or, it might be that the behavior is encouraged.

You might be cuddling them too much or petting them when they cry. You think it’ll make them relaxed when it actually won’t.

If your dog has separation issues with the symptoms mentioned above, have them checked by a vet first. Then talk to a behaviorist once all medical problems are ruled out.

Note: You may ask somebody in your house to walk and feed them sometimes. So that they’ll be familiar with other people too – making them feel less insecure.

#2: My dog barks when I leave him/her alone

Your Dog Barks When You Leave Them Alone

This is a bit different than the first one.

It might be due to separation anxiety because they can’t stand it when they can’t see you. Or they do it because of fear or loneliness.

If they have the former, they might not eat or play with their toys at all when you’re gone. And a bad experience can cause them to be afraid of being alone, like being locked in a room for hours.

Does your dog seem scared?

Observe them first. You may also put a camera inside to see how they react when they’re left alone. And to figure out what things trigger their anxiety.

Your pooch might also be bored inside because they’ve got nothing to do. So they bark to release their irritation. While some dogs just love to bark at anything like Malteses and Terriers.

How long can I leave my dog alone?

PDSA says that you shouldn’t leave your dog for more than 4 hours every day.

But, it still depends on their age and breed.

So puppies shouldn’t be left alone daily for so long. While pooches ages 5 months and up may tolerate up to 4 hours a day.

Note: Research says that a dog who’s calm for 30 minutes may be capable of being left alone for long hours.

#3: My dog barks when I leave him outside

There are many possible reasons for this one. It can be due to:

  • Distress.
  • Loneliness.
  • Their breed.
  • Group barking.
  • Strange sounds.
  • Territorial instincts.

Your dog might be upset that you’re not beside them. They’re social animals, and some always seek the presence of their humans.

There are people who may think that their dogs like being outside. Well, it’s true. But only if you’re also there, like when you play with them in the yard.

Otherwise, being outside makes them separated from you. That’s why they feel lonely, especially when left for too long.

Also, some breeds like Beagles may also tend to vocalize more than others.

And when they do this at night, they might be hearing some strange sounds such as loud sirens or critters.

If they’re territorial, they may also bark to scare the strangers away. And it’s also their way of telling you about any potential danger.

They could also hear other dogs barking too. And yours just joined in the fun.

What could I do?

If this behavior is done excessively, you should avoid leaving them there for hours. Take them outside, but stay with them as much as possible.

If it’s necessary to leave them for a few hours, you must provide them a shelter. It must have enough food and water in it.

But, it’s not recommended daily and for long hours. It’s never good for a dog to stay outside with no social interaction or toys to play with.

Plus, it’s not safe. And they would only develop destructive behaviors.

#4: My dog howls when I leave him in the car

Dogs do this because of one thing – anxiety.

Your pooch might be scared that you won’t come back when you get out of the car. They might also think they’re locked inside.

It’s also possible that they know you’re going to come back when they start to whine.

It can be a nuisance at times. Especially when you’re always driving with them. And be outside for a while to buy something.

To stop this, you need to condition your dog that there’s nothing to worry about.

  1. First, you need to take them for short drives. 
  2. Next, get out of the car and walk away.

Do this slowly. And stay close for about 10 feet (3 m).

  1. If you hear your dog howling, ignore them.

But if they’re quiet, go and reward them with treats.

  1. Do the steps again until they learn how to behave inside the car.

Note: Remember, consistency will do the work. If it’s not done repeatedly, it’ll be useless.

#5: My dog howls when I leave for work

If your dog does this, they know for sure that you’ll be gone for hours. And they don’t want that.

Do you live with a roommate or your family? 

If so, they might only be attached to you and have separation issues. But if not, they just dislike being alone in the house for too long. 

Dogs are smart. They know when you usually go to work based on their concept of time and your actions.

Picking up the keys and getting your shoes might be some of them. And they’ll also know where you’re going by sniffing your clothes.

Change the behavior

If your pooch has separation anxiety, it’s important to:

  1. Control your emotions.
  2. Alter your routine.
  3. Exercise and play games with them before going out.
  4. Distract them with their favorite chew toys and treats.
  5. Turn on the TV or play soothing music for dogs.
  6. Stop giving too much affection.
  7. When you get home, ignore them until they’re quiet.

Other solutions

You may also consider getting a dog walker. So that someone could take them outside for a potty or a stroll.

Installing a camera with speakers inside the house is helpful to see what they’re doing. And also, to make your voice heard by your dog to help them calm down.

You can also bring them to work once in a while if it’s allowed. So that your dog won’t get too lonely being left alone every day.

#6: My dog cries for hours when I leave

If your pooch wails nonstop, they might be:

  • Stressed.
  • Bored and lonely.
  • Suffering from separation anxiety.

They’re worried if you’re coming back or when you’ll return.

You might’ve formed a strong bond with them. And now, they can’t afford to be away from you at all times.

Your house may also lack mental and physical stimulation. And those are important for dogs. As they shouldn’t just lay and sleep all day.

If they seem stressed and bored, walk them every day based on their needs. Play games with them at home.

You should also buy puzzles or self-activated toys. These will tire their brains out, and they won’t have time to worry about other things.

#7: My dog cries in his crate when I leave

It isn’t normal for them to howl in their crate when they’re properly trained.

You provide a crate to give them their own little space. And that should lessen anxiety.

But if its doors are closed, your dog might want to pee or poop. Or they simply want to go outside.

They might also be bored, so leave treats and toys they can play with inside. You can give them a Kong with peanut butter – or any food they want.

It’s also possible that you let them out or give them attention when they cry. So from then on, your dog knows how to get out of it.

You can modify their behavior and only give them treats when they’re quiet inside.

Note: Make sure that their crate is of the right size for your dog. Just an ample area where your pooch can comfortably sit and move.