Separation anxiety is an extremely common problem in dogs, sometimes resulting in the breakdown of the special bond shared by humans and their canine companions.
A study by academics at the University of Lincoln, UK, and the University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Kosice, Slovakia, aims to improve our understanding of dogs’ behaviour in the owner’s absence.
Dog owners are being asked to complete a detailed survey to help researchers analyse the various clinical signs and situations in which problems occur.
Raquel Matos, from the University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy, is conducting the research alongside the University of Lincoln’s Professor Daniel Mills.
She said: “Separation-related problems are extremely common and in some cases can lead to owners feeling they have no other option but to surrender their pet. Through this study we aim to identify the relative prevalence, severity and characteristics of the different types of emotional problems related to separation from the owner.
“Different emotional problems may have a similar presentation with superficially similar clinical signs but may have different underlying motivational and emotional factors. By taking the time to fill out this questionnaire people will be helping to improve our knowledge on this important subject, which may help us develop more effective treatments.”
Destructiveness, vocalisation such as barking and whining, and house soiling are among the most common complaints of dog owners.
It has also been established that dogs showing these problems are at a higher risk of a range of other complications.
The researchers hope to apply the findings from the survey to aid the development of more specific treatments and prevention programmes.
Dog owners are asked to take part if their animal shows any signs of depression/sadness; destructiveness; vocalisation such as whining, barking or howling; or house soiling when separated from the owner or left alone.
Please do not complete the survey if you have owned your dog for less than one month; your dog is under 12 weeks’ old; there has been a significant change in the household in the last month; or your dog previously showed any of these signs but no longer does.
Owners that wish to further collaborate are invited to send a video of the first 30 minutes after their dog is left alone at home.
To take part please visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/separation-related-problems_dogs