Efficacy of written behavioral advice for separation-related behavior problems in dogs newly adopted from a rehoming center

Emily Jayne Blackwell*, Rachel A. Casey, John W S Bradshaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Separation anxiety/separation-related behavior problems (SA/SRB) are a significant cause of abandonment and failure of rehoming in dogs. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of providing written advice to adopters of dogs, aimed at reducing the risk of SA/SRB occurring in the new home. An opportunity sample of 176 dogs was taken from animals rehomed over a 13-month period. Adopters of dogs were allocated alternately to 2 groups, experimental (treatment) and no treatment (control). Adopters in the control group were given advice about healthcare. Adopters in the treatment group received behavioral advice, designed to prevent SA/SRB. Efficacy of the advice was measured 12 weeks after rehoming, when owners were asked to complete a postal questionnaire detailing their dog's behavior when alone, as well as other factors previously suggested to influence the occurrence of SA/SRB. Overall, 53 (30%) of the dogs were reported to show SA/SRB (38% of the control group and 22% of the treatment group). Younger dogs were more likely to show SA/SRB and neutered females showed lower levels of SA/SRB. Although compliance with the advice was generally poor and varied between recommendations, dogs in the control group were more likely to show signs of SA/SRB than those in the treatment group, and hence the provision of written advice to adopters appears to be effective in reducing the development of SA/SRB after rehoming.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Early online date29 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Animal welfare
  • Behavior problem
  • Domestic dog
  • Re-homing
  • Separation anxiety
  • Separation-related behavior


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