Who Really Has Separation Anxiety: Dogs or Dog Parents?
It’s safe to say that most of us spent more time at home in 2020 than ever before. From offices transitioning to remote work, to restaurants opting for curbside pickup, COVID-19’s ravaging impact left us all largely confined by the walls of our homes. Yet, while the world was kept apart, we were brought together with our beloved pets.
If our canine pals could talk, we’re certain they would say that 2020 was the best year ever. Skyrocketing rates of pet adoptions, a seemingly endless amount of walks, and their humans at home 24/7? Sounds like a puppy paradise!
Dogs quickly became accustomed to having their owners nearby. But, as the world slowly returns to normalcy this year, will it be man or “man’s best friend” that suffers from separation anxiety most?
At CertaPet, dogs are more than pets: they’re our best companions. So, we decided to take a look into how both American dog parents and their furry friends are dealing with separation anxiety as they return to the office, traveling, and other social events in 2021. CertaPet surveyed over 2,600 American dog parents across all 50 states from June 23 – July 14, 2021, to determine the following:
- In which states are owners and their pups experiencing separation anxiety most?
- When it comes to Fido’s separation anxiety, which are the most common behaviors & remedies?
- How does separation anxiety impact things like relationships, canceling plans, or returning to the office?
Read on for separation anxiety statistics and to see what we uncovered!
States With the Most Separation Anxiety: In Dogs & Dog Parents
First, we decided to take a look at which states have the most anxious dogs and dog parents. We asked respondents to rate their anxiety when separated from their dog on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 = less anxious and 5 = more anxious). Then, we asked respondents to rate their dogs’ anxiety when separated from them. Based on responses, the national average anxiety rating is 2.9 for dog owners and 3.9 for dogs. Thus, across the U.S., our pooches are feeling significantly more anxious than we are.
As far as humans go, Arizonians feel the most anxious when separated from their fur babies. Dog owners in this state have a national anxiety rating 13% higher than the national average. New York followed closely behind, with a rating 11% higher than the national average. At nearly 9% higher than the national average, Virginia and Maryland tied for the third-highest anxiety ratings.
These results differ when viewed from the perspective of our canines. Dogs in Colorado feel more anxious than dogs in any other state when separated from their parents at a rate of 5.58% above the national average. Floridian dogs have the second-highest separation anxiety levels, with scores nearly 5% above the national average.
Separation Anxiety By the Numbers
If your dog exhibits signs of anxiety the moment you step out the door, they’re not alone: over three-fourths of American dogs experience separation anxiety, according to survey responses. On the other hand, if you’re the one that gets anxious when you close the door on your sweet pup’s sad eyes, that’s normal, too. Nearly half (47%) of Americans experience separation anxiety from their dogs. On average, Americans are willing to leave their dogs alone for a maximum of 6.7 hours per day – an interesting finding given the typical workday is eight hours!
Fido’s Separation Anxiety: Most Common Behaviors & Remedies
There are numerous tips and tricks to combat separation anxiety in dogs, and exercise is the most popular remedy. 46% of American dog owners use exercise as a means to calm their anxious pup. Interactive toys are another popular method, with 39% of dog parents using this mental stimulation to keep their dogs’ nerves in check.
Sometimes, separation anxiety remedies just aren’t enough to keep your dog from engaging in anxiety-driven behaviors. The most obvious (and most common) sign of separation anxiety in dogs is excessive barking or howling. Over half of American dog owners say that their dog makes these noises when left alone. Other popular separation anxiety behaviors in animals include urinating or defecating indoors (24%) and destruction of objects (nearly 23%).
Fido’s Separation Anxiety: Relationships & Remote Work
Let’s not forget that humans experience separation anxiety, too. While we don’t typically howl or chew on objects when we leave our dogs (at least, we would hope not), there are certain behaviors that many of us would change to accommodate our dogs. Many Americans put their dogs before their romantic relationships. Over one-third of dog owners feel that their dog is more important than their significant other, and a whopping 70% would end a relationship if their partner wouldn’t allow their dog around as often as they wanted!
41% of dog parents admit to canceling plans with friends because they could not bring their dog. No pet-friendly venues? No dice! What’s more, almost 70% of dog owners would prefer permanent remote work for the sake of their dog’s wellbeing. Perhaps the tight-knit owner/pup bond is contributing to the massive growth of full-time remote workers across the U.S.
There’s something remarkable about the bond between a dog parent and their fur baby. As we slowly return to the office and transition back to our pre-pandemic lifestyles, it may be harder than ever to leave your dog behind.
Here’s a few practical tips for alleviating separation anxiety in dogs:
- Consider remote tools like a Furbo or a treat-dispensing toy, if you’re anxious about how your dog will behave when you’re not at home
- Contact a local dog trainer to help with anxiety-induced behaviors in your dog
- Consider trying a CBD treat or supplement to help calm your dog
- Stick to a routine with your dog, which can provide them with both structure and the knowledge that their needs will be met
Separation anxiety is common among dogs and humans alike. If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, CertaPet can help connect you to a licensed mental health professional, who can provide you with a consultation for a psychiatric service dog or emotional support animal to help support your mental wellness.