Pet behaviorist warns against leaving dogs home alone
While large numbers of the UK workforce return to the office, at least on a part-time basis, the majority of the country’s 12 million dogs routinely find themselves home alone for up to five hours a day – or in some cases up to eight.
While many of us assume our four-legged friends have no problem with this, one behaviorist and dog trainer has warned that they might not be as “fine” as we think.
Plus, young, middle-aged owners leave their dogs even longer, with 26% of puppies whose parents have parents under the age of 50 consistently leaving for at least six hours at a time, and a small percentage up to ‘at eight.
Interestingly, however, more than three-quarters of owners said their dog doesn’t suffer from any problem if left alone.
However, this startling figure may be the result of the fact that moms and dads haven’t witnessed the effects on their puppy firsthand.
Behaviorist and trainer Carolyn Menteith said: âA big problem is that owners often assume their dog is fine on their own because they don’t see any evidence of behavioral issues related to separation.
âBut they’re not here to see them.
“In many cases, the first time people realize their dog has a problem with being left behind is when neighbors complain about barking or when they return home to a scene of devastation. . “
She added, âDogs are a social species that relate very closely to their human family – which is why they make such great companions.
âBut part of that deep connection means that they need our company and our interaction, because we are their safety and, literally, their world.
âFew dogs like to be left alone, although some learn to tolerate it.
âIf you regularly leave your dog, don’t just assume he’s happy about it – find out for sure. “
To determine how your furry friend behaves while you are away, Carolyn suggested setting up a webcam when you leave to confirm that your dog is okay or to reveal that he is not “as relaxed and happy as you thought he was. “.
“Once you know what your dog really does when left alone, you can either relax or start considering other options such as a dog walker, doggy day care or a member. family or a friend is caring for your dog, âCarolyne said.
âThe worst thing you can do is ignore it or think your dog is just going to ‘get used to it’.
âSeparation behaviors are problems that get worse, not every show, but luckily there is so much that owners can do to help their dog.
“For serious separation issues, find a licensed, specialized behaviorist who can teach your dog to cope on his own.”
Additionally, it is important for parents of pets to remember that these behaviors do not mean your dog is mean or trying to “get revenge.”
Carolyn added, âIf a dog has not learned the coping strategies necessary to be left alone, he will have no control over his behavior when he feels unsafe. It creates stress, anxiety, and the fear of being left alone, which resembles a human panic attack.
She also revealed the most common separation anxiety symptoms that dog owners should watch out for.
This includes whining, barking or yelling, gasping or salivating, and surveying.
Attempts to escape and scratch or dig at doors, as well as destructive behaviors such as chewing, are also behaviors related to separation.
Some dogs may exhibit increased responsiveness, aggressive behavior, or even self-harm, for example by chewing or biting their paws.
Carolyn commented, âWhile most of these behaviors only occur when the dog is left behind, the increased stress levels and fear of being abandoned without warning can also lead to unwanted behavior at other times as the dog no longer feels safe. .
âBeing left behind for long periods of time also leads to boredom and frustration, which leads to their own behavioral issues. “
Agria is one of the world’s leading animal insurers, specializing in small animal, equine and agricultural insurance.
Founded in Sweden over 130 years ago, Agria started underwriting policies in the UK in 2009 and is now an important part of the UK pet insurance industry.
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