It’s a dog’s life: Pets depressed because they are left home alone all day by working owners
By Luke Salkeld
Pets become down when owners go to work, a new documentary claims
Dogs are filmed and can apparently be seen howling and ‘self harming’
‘Separation anxiety’ comes from ‘strong link’ with humans
Winston Churchill famously called it the black dog – the depression that plagued the wartime prime minister throughout his life.
Now one in four of Britain’s eight million pet dogs are said to be suffering from depression of their own, caused by the stress of being left alone by busy owners.
According to some evidence, the problem is made worse for animals whose owners work particularly long hours or have just returned to their jobs.
Filming for a television documentary has revealed the kind of behaviour displayed by dogs when left alone at home.
A spokesman for Home Alone Dogs, to be shown on Channel 4 later this year, said: ‘For some dogs the consequences can be shocking, including pacing and spinning on the spot.
‘Others were seen barking and howling for long periods, defecating and even self-harming.’
Dr John Bradshaw, author of In Defense of Dogs, explained: ‘Dogs have a very powerful link to humans. You can train a dog to do all sorts of things and understand our gestures.
‘We expect to turn all that off by saying [to our dogs], “We’re going out – relax, have a kip, chew a bone, we’ll be back soon”.
‘They don’t understand that.’
Owners of dogs suffering from separation anxiety are advised to gradually build up the amount of time they spend away from their pets.
Dr Nicola Rooney, from the University of Bristol’s veterinary school, said the level of stress hormones in some dogs could be high even when the animals appeared to be content – but that the issue could be resolved.
She said: ‘There are dogs who are quiet, but when you look at their physiological stress they are affected as well.
‘We don’t want owners to say, “My dogs is suffering but I’m working long hours and can’t do anything about it”, so that lots of dogs get dumped in re-homing centers.
‘There are strategies that can be used.’
This is some truly important news from “across the pond”
Many of us are back to work and school after a long summer off. Our animals have gotten used to us being around during the day. The transition back to pet owners being out of the home is hard on the animals.
Think about supplementing their day with a visit from a pet sitter or dog walker to help them with their longer, boring days. We all do better when we have something to look forward in the day don’t we?
Call today for your complementary in-home consultation today!