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Study to look at separation anxiety in dogs

black dog

Cyril, who is taking part in the separation anxiety in dogs study Stephanie Miller

Press release issued: 27 February 2023

Do you want to take part in vital research into separation anxiety in dogs? If so, the University of Bristol Veterinary School and the School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience wants to hear from you.

The research study, funded by Dogs Trust, and led by the School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience and the Bristol Vet School, is investigating how dogs respond to pheromones when they're left alone and whether this can help improve separation anxiety in dogs.

Some dogs become stressed when they are left on their own and may display unwanted and sometimes destructive behaviours as a result. Separation anxiety can develop in dogs for a number of reasons and owner’s staying at home more during the pandemic is thought to have exacerbated the issue.

Participation in the research would involve dog owners having a diffuser type device in their home for up to eight weeks, with a researcher visiting every fortnight to carry out in-house observations.

Ilana Kelland, Specialist Technician in the School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, who is leading the study, said: "Some dogs can find being left on their own an overwhelming and stressful experience.  Our study is hoping to find out if the pheromone diffuser being used in a home environment can ease separation anxiety in dogs."

Stephanie Miller, who is participating in the study with her dog, Cyril, added: "I jumped at the chance to take part in the study as Cyril has had separation anxiety since he was a puppy.  Although I have tried lots of things to help him he can't be left alone as he gets very distressed.

"The researchers have clearly explained every step of the study and we’ve enjoyed taking part in the research project. It's also a great opportunity to be involved in research that could potentially help other dogs and their owners too."

To be eligible to take part in the study, dogs and their owners should be:

  • Dog must be over the age of 18 months
  • Live in a single dog household
  • Dog owner should be able and willing to leave their dog alone in one room in the house for a 20-minute separation test
  • Live in a home environment without the presence of any calming pheromones or supplements
  • Must have owned their dog for over a year
  • Dog is clinically healthy
  • Dog is not receiving pharmacological treatment with psychoactive drugs
  • Female dogs must not be in season or pregnant

By taking part in the research study, participants will receive up to £80 for their time (£10 per week). Participants will have the right to withdraw from the study at any point.

To register your interest or for further information contact Ilana Kelland on email

Further information

Study at Bristol Veterinary School
The University of Bristol Veterinary School offers a range of undergraduate courses including:

In addition a number of postgraduate courses including:

Based at Bristol's Langford Campus, Bristol Veterinary School boasts first-class clinical facilities and encompasses a small animal hospital, a dairy farm, diagnostic laboratories, and farm animal, small animal and equine practices.

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