Mild(?) separation anxiety only when left outside of crate

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I have a Nova Scotia Duck Toller mix. She just hit 1yr old. Had her since 8 weeks.

We crate trained her right from the beginning, which was not easy. It took a long time. Really did not like being left alone, but eventually it took and she’s great being left alone in the crate.

Since she’s housetrained I decided to start giving her freedom when I leave. The problem is that it seems to upset her if I leave and she’s not in the crate. She doesn’t have any accidents, she’s not destructive, but when I come home she seems a little too “wound up” and panting, even if it’s only been an hour.

She doesn’t like to be alone in general. At home she is my shadow – she can be fast asleep on the couch but I can’t go to the bathroom without her following.

Any advice? Just keep leaving in small increments until she “gets it”? I don’t want to make her anxiety worse, but I’d also like to give her more freedom. She’s never in the crate for more than 3 hours, but I’d like to not have to use it at all.

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