Tackling Dog Loneliness

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The RSPCA is launching its #DogKind campaign to raise awareness of a commonly overlooked but worrying animal welfare issue. According to the RSPCA up to 85 percent of our dogs feel the anxiety of being separated from their owners. 

At some point we have all experienced issues with chewed furniture, scratched doors, howling and little messes. These are just some of the visible displays of angst shown by dogs left on their own. Increased heart and breathing rates and panting are far less obvious.

In the survey, 22 percent of owners admitted to leaving their dogs for four or more hours a day. The most common reason was that their working hours make it difficult for them to care for their dog as “they would like”, while one in five admitted witnessing signs associated with  separation-related  behaviour.

Research suggests that 85 percent of dogs may be struggling to cope when left alone and with an estimated nine million dogs in the UK and 26 percent of households with a pet dog, it’s shocking to think that more than seven million of our four-legged friends could be feeling frightened, lonely or sad when home alone.

The top common-sense tips to help owners allay their pets’ separation fears, include:

  1. Never punish a pet. If a dog misbehaves while you are out, it is vital that you do not react badly when you come home. Separation-related behaviour problems get worse when owners punish their dogs on their return.
  2. Giving a dog something to occupy themselves while you are out to prevent boredom. Long-lasting treats such as heavy duty toys or chews are perfect.
  3. Making a dog more relaxed by giving them appropriate amounts of exercise and toileting before going out.

The best solution is to arrange for a neighbour, friend or relative to spend time with your dog or take them out for a walk. There are also thousands of professional dog walkers who will arrange to collect, walk and return your dog. Not only will your dog get a walk but in most cases they will get to play and socialise with other dogs. The dog walker may also help with common problems like pulling on the lead or recall.