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Relationship between attachment to owners and separation anxiety in pet dogs ( Canis lupus familiaris )

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Dogs' dysfunctional attachment relationships with their owners are assumed to be the underlying cause of separation anxiety. Thirty-two dogs with and 43 dogs without owner-reported separation anxiety (SA) participated in a formal attachment test (AT). After the AT, the dogs were videotaped for 30 minutes while alone at home. Dogs left free in the house were scored on how long they were in proximity to the owners' exit doors. Dogs who were crated or closely confined were scored on several anxiety-related behaviors, which were then compared to those dogs' behaviors during the attachment test. Dogs with SA spent no more time in contact with or proximity to their owners during the attachment test than dogs without SA (P>0.05). Instead, they tended to jump up on the door after the strangers left the room and remain stationary when alone with their owners (P<0.05). There was no significant difference (P>0.05) between SA and non-SA dogs in the amount of time spent in proximity to the owners' exit doors when left alone at home. Dogs crated at home showed no relationship between the amount of anxiety-related behaviors during the AT or at home (P>0.05). There was no significant difference in the type of proximity-seeking behaviors exhibited by dogs with and without SA in the home (P>0.02). These finding suggest that separation anxiety is not based on "hyperattachment" of the dog to the owner, but that a different attachment style may be present between dogs with and without SA.


Megan Kendall

Purdue University

Date 2006
Publication Title Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Volume 1
Issue 3
Pages 109-120
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.jveb.2006.09.005
Language English
Notes This article added with permission from Elsevier
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Attachment behavior
  3. Dogs
  4. Human-animal relationships
  5. Mammals
  6. Pet ownership
  7. Pets and companion animals
  8. Separation anxiety