Separation anxiety case study – Bella (Bichon Frise x Maltese)

Bella is a beautiful little 6 year old Bichon Frise x Maltese who I worked with for one month from July 2021. Bella’s mum had tried to work on her separation anxiety on her own in the past but with no success, and being a young woman who lived on her own, she was finding it really hard to be a prisoner in her home. This is Bella:

The initial assessment

In Bella’s initial assessment, Bella followed her mum to the hall and watched from the living room doorway as she put her shoes on. 10 seconds after the front door closed Bella went closer to the front door, lowered her head to sniff, her tail was up, and then at 19 seconds she started whining and this escalated to more continuous howling. Video is below:

Week 1 reassessment

In our reassessment after Bella had been on the programme for one week, Bella remained on the bed for roughly 1 minute after her mum left the front door, then was out of sight for a while, then she wandered slowly from the bedroom to the living room, and at 3 minutes 56 seconds wandered to the front door and lowered her head to sniff along the crack between the ground and the front door. This was a sign for me that she was starting to feel “itchy” (we do not want to wait for the dog to feel anxious) so I texted her mum, who came back in at 4 minutes 02 seconds.

I do have a video for this but there is awful feedback for the whole time (a high pitched squeaking noise) for some reason, so instead I have added a photo from the first  minute when Bella was still on the bed!

The final reassessment

Bella did amazingly well through this month’s protocol. steadily managing to stay home alone for longer each week, while remaining totally comfortable. In our final reassessment on 11th August 2021, Bella remained on the sofa for a mammoth 1 HOUR 25 MINUTES after her mum left the front door, with just a brief break to wander into the bedroom and back!  Below is a photo of my view for the majority of that final reassessment!

Below is a graph to show Bella’s progress for this month:


It is pertinent for me to add that Bella was put on medication when she went onto my waiting list, meaning that by the time we started working together, the medication would have had time to get into her system fully. Now she may have gone through the protocol easily without medication, but my hunch is that this would not have been the case.  Medication will make no difference on its own, nor should it sedate or change your dog’s personality, but it can act as a metaphorical life jacket while your dog learns to feel safe home alone.

One happy owner!

This is what Bella’s mum had to say following our time working together:

” Angela has helped my dog in ways I cannot imagine. Her knowledge of separation anxiety is unbelievable and she is so patient and positive in her approach. She is always there to help and support you. My dog is like a different dog! I cannot believe how much progress has been made because of Angela. I will forever be thankful!”

Are you unable to leave your dog home alone? Are you feeling like a prisoner in your own home? Click on the link below and complete the form to book a FREE call with me to find out more!

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By Angela Doyle

I am a highly qualified dog trainer and behaviour consultant based in Surrey, UK. I am a Provisional Clinical Animal Behaviourist with the APBC, and as a fully qualified CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer) I specialise in helping people help their dogs overcome Separation Anxiety.

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