Home alone: Why does my dog feel stressed when left alone?

Last changed: 14 September 2023
Photo: Upper part of a dogs face

Many dogs suffer from behavioural and emotional problems. It is estimated that about 17% of dogs have separation anxiety and 26% have general fearfulness, with many dogs having both conditions. Because dogs cannot tell us when they are feeling sad or anxious, it can be difficult to know what the dog is experiencing. Many owners can read their dog’s body language and have an intuitive understanding of what their dog is feeling, but unfortunately, this is not always enough to help dogs with emotional problems.


This project aims to get a better understanding of what dogs are feeling when left alone, and why they are feeling this way.


This study consist of questionnaires to determine the presence and severity of separation anxiety combined with behavioural and cognitive tests.

Dog recruitment

As part of Formas research project, we are looking for dogs to participate in this study.

Do you have a dog that is either:

  • Healthy (without anxiety problems), OR
  • Has separation anxiety (e.g., your dog gets distressed when left alone in the house; the dog may bark and whine, destroy furniture, urinate, or show other unwanted behaviours when left alone.

Photo: The head of a golden retriever with the tongue outside of the mouth
Photo: Pixabay

The dog also needs to be:

  • Older than 1 year
  • Can be easily trained and has some experience with clicker training
  • Likes to eat (and work for) tasty food
  • Is available for training and testing in Ultuna

Dr Else Verbeek, 0705311771