It must be fair to say that nobody likes leaving their dog on its own. But in many cases, we often fail to look at the real reasons why leaving your dog is bad and the huge negative consequences it can have on your pet's mental wellbeing. So here are three of those unknown reasons why you shouldn’t leave your dog on its own.
1. They get stressedHave you ever wondered why your dog pees on the floor while you’re away? Well, it’s likely due to stress and fear. They worry that you are not going to return. The Canine Behaviourist and Welfare Team at the Battersea Dog’s Home estimate that the first 30 minutes after your departure is the most stressful period during your absence. They state that your dog’s heart rate, respiratory functions and stress hormones all rise quickly after your departure. Which in turn leads to their scratching, whimpering and possible urination.
2. Some dogs can get depressionDepending on your experiences with you pet, you may or may not be surprised to know that dogs, just like humans, can develop depression. Professionals are unsure of the exact reasons as to why dogs don’t like being on their own. It could be because they feel they’re being abandoned, they get bored or are simply just incredibly needy. Either way, with poor coping mechanisms, many dogs do get depression and anxiety which is incredibly hard to treat.
3. Being in pairs doesn’t helpThough there is no clear evidence to show which dogs perform best on their own or in pairs, simply leaving your dog at home with another dog isn’t necessarily the way forward. If one comes to develop anxiety or depression this can, in many cases, quickly spread to the other dog. Of course, it is possible that the second dog can help pull them out of the rut, though there is no clear answer as to whether it will or won’t.
What’s the solution?Training your dog to be independent is something that needs to occur from a very young age. From around 3 to 14 weeks old you need to start teaching them that being on their own is OK. You can do this by leaving them alone for short periods at a time and then gradually increasing the amounts of time. Alternatively, use positive reinforcement by leaving specially left treats that are only available whilst you are out of the house. One thing that is for sure is that leaving your dog on its own for any longer than is necessary is not a good thing to do, especially if you are away for a full day or more at a time. Also, if on holiday then having a minder come in just once or twice a day is not the care they need. Instead, you should use a day care service that provides the loving care and human attention that your dog needs. So, if you live near Welwyn and are looking for someone to take your dog on long, healthy and regular walks, then get in contact today.
Dogs, like people, can get bored and when they do, they resort to looking for ways to entertain themselves - just like you or I would. They could be having a real riot of a time chewing up and spitting out bits of your slippers or scattering your scatter-cushions - before tearing them apart: it’s such an easy and fun way to pass the time! Many of us quickly assume that the dog is punishing us for leaving them alone in the house, all day, but we’re barking up the wrong tree! For example, a dog ‘gone native’ would be out scavenging for food all day. It would also be very excited about searching out food with a group of buddies (or ‘pack’, as we like to say), much the same way as we do, in fact. According to the Dog Trust: ‘To keep a dog from being bored and out of trouble in the home, you need to devise all sorts of fun and interesting ways to feed your dog his daily food ration.’ It’s not just food issues, though. Recent changes in weather patterns have also exposed an increase in boredom among pet dogs. Persistent wet, damp weather has meant dog-owners have been less inclined to go out for walks. Animal behaviourists have noticed a sharp increase in the number of depressed and distressed dogs needing therapy, lately. Carolyn Menteith, a dog behaviourist and Britain’s Instructor of the Year 2015, told The Independent: “I’ve been working with dogs for more than 20 years and I can’t remember a time when they have been this bored. I tend to see boredom in bursts but I’m seeing it chronically this winter.” Dogs are highly intelligent and are social creatures. They need mental and physical stimulation, social interactions along with variety to spice up their hum-drum lives, just like you and me. According to Kate’s Pet Corner: “A bored dog is a stressed dog. Behavioural issues can result from boredom and they are normally destructive. When dogs are bored they make their own entertainment. Unfortunately for you this tends to involve digging up your garden or chewing your favourite pair of shoes.” Other behavioural symptoms she notes include: stealing; chewing; digging; excessive barking and hyperactivity. “A bored dog usually knows that their behaviour was wrong and they will look guilty on your return,” she points out, which explains why we conclude their behaviour is deliberate. Walking is the most obvious and beneficial means to combat canine boredom. Maybe you have other friends with dogs that you could invite too? Such social interactions would enrich your dog's life. If you work all day, could you pop home in your lunch break for a quick walk? If that is not possible and you don't want anti-social or destructive behaviour from your dog you should look into a dog walking service. Nine million dogs can't be wrong!