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Who Has More Separation Anxiety — You or Your Dog?

It was a trick question. A study shows that the pandemic has made us all codependent.

by Sio Hornbuckle
February 21, 2022
Young woman hugging her small black dog on the couch
Vertikala / Stocksy

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

As we enter another year of pandemic adjustments (and readjustments), issues surrounding separation anxiety in both dogs and their humans continue to be relevant. A study by Certapet revealed the numbers behind pet/pet parent relationships in 2021, the year many of us left our dogs alone once again to venture outside for work and socialization — or, in the case of pandemic adopters, left our pups alone for the first time.

The data analyzed survey answers from over 2,600 Americans across all 50 states. Pet parents were asked to rank answers on a scale of one to five, allowing researchers to determine national averages on a five-point scale. We rounded up the most interesting discoveries below.

Separation Anxiety 

  • 47% of Americans report feeling anxious when away from their pets. This percentage is much higher in some states, with Arizona, New York, and Virginia homing the most anxious pet parents.

  • 76% of dogs experience separation anxiety. That’s a lot more than the pre-pandemic estimated 14%.

  • The average pet parent is willing to part with their dogs for a maximum of nine days when traveling. 

  • 73% of Americans would get another dog if it would make their resident dog less anxious.

  • Colorado dogs ranked highest in reports of separation anxiety, clocking in at nearly 6% above the national average. A possible cause — Colorado pet parents sit below the national average of separation anxiety. It‘s important to feel wanted.

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Human Relationships

  • 38% of American pet parents believe their dog is more important than their significant other.

  • 70% would break up with someone who doesn’t allow their dog around as much as they want. 

  • 69% would prefer to work from home for the sake of their dog. Not surprising, given that the average pet parent is willing to leave their dog alone for a maximum of 6.7 hours a day, over an hour less than the average workday length. 

  • 41% have canceled plans because they couldn’t bring their dog. 

Common Behaviors and Possible Remedies

  • Excessive barking and howling was the most common behavior associated with dogs experiencing separation anxiety, with over 50% reporting the action.

  • Going to the bathroom indoors and destroying objects were next up, at 24% and 23% respectively.

  • Separation anxiety can even result in some property damage, as 16% reported chewing shoes or clothing and 14% chewed furniture.

  • The most popular solution was exercise at 46% with interactive toys a close second at 39%.

  • 34% used calming treats and 26% relied on calming music.

These numbers confirm what most dog parents could have guessed: the past few years have intensified our relationships with our pets. After so many months trapped inside together, dogs and humans alike are intimidated by time apart. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to help manage separation anxiety — plus options for bringing your dog along on your travels.

And if you do have to leave the pup at home, dog walkers and doggie daycares are available to keep them company. So if you’re one of the 47% of pet parents in the nation whose heart races when you imagine patting your dog goodbye, don’t worry; even if you have to shell out for a kong or ditch your partner, you and your pup will make it through.

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Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.