The behavior of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) during separation from and reunion with the owner: A questionnaire and an experimental study

Veronika Konok, Antal Dóka, Ádám Miklósi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)


We have constructed a questionnaire to investigate the separation behavior in a sample of family dogs (Canis familiaris) (N=45) and in parallel we have observed dogs' separation-related behavior in a simple behavioral test (Separation and greeting test, S&G). We recorded the dogs' behavior during the separation from and reunion (greeting) with the owner. We investigated whether owners' report about their dogs' separation behavior reflected the separation behavior under controlled testing conditions. Furthermore, we wanted to find out whether the duration of separation affected the behavior of dogs and whether there was some relationship between separation and greeting behavior.Dogs that were rated by their owner to be more " anxious" during separation and " happier" at reunion, showed more activity and stress-related behavior during separation, and more affection toward the owner during greeting. Dogs with owner-reported separation-related disorder (SRD) showed more stress-related behavior, they spent less time near the owner's chair during separation, and were more active during greeting than dogs without SRD. The two groups of dogs did not differ in affectionate behavior shown toward the owner. Non-affected dogs' activity decreased with increasing separation duration, but dogs with SRD did not show this change in their separation behavior.Our results show that owners' have a realistic view on their dogs' separation behavior. In addition, dogs with SRD may not be " hyper-attached" to their owners because they do not show more affection during greeting. Moreover, dogs with SRD do not show preference for the owners' objects left behind and they cannot be easily calmed by the returning owner.Our questionnaire and the Separation and greeting test could be used for screening dogs with suspected separation-related behavior problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-308
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2011


  • Dog
  • Greeting behavior
  • Separation behavior
  • Separation-related disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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