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12July 2017
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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 stressed

Have 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 depression

Depending 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 help

Though 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.
10July 2015
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Your dog may understand more of your speech than you think. Have you ever talked to your dog and felt he was understanding every word? If your family and friends dismissed it, you might be heartened to know that scientific research could be backing you up. Research has shown that dogs may well not just be picking up on your tone of voice. They might be able to understand more than we previously thought. When we hear sounds, the right side of the brain processes tone of voice and the left side of the brain processes the content of speech. Our physiology means that the pathways between our right ear and the left side of the brain are stronger than from the left ear, and the pathways between our left ear and the right side of the brain are stronger. So we understand speech better from our right ear and the emotional tone of sound better from our left ear. Animals like dogs show a similar pattern when it comes to the sounds animals of their own species make. The question has always been: Do dogs make the same distinction when it comes to listening to human speech? A study by Victoria F Ratcliffe and David Reby which tried to answer that question was published in Current Biology (Orienting Asymmetries in Dogs’ Responses to Different Communicatory Components of Human Speech).The study positioned dogs between two speakers. Either a non-human or a human voice were played from both sides, simultaneously. The study looked at whether each dog turned its head to the left or right. That would indicate how the dog was processing the sound and which side it was hearing more clearly. The sound of the human voices used was enhanced to emphasise the faster-moving sound of the vocabulary, or modified to enhance the slower-moving sound of the emotional tone. The sound was varied between words and commands the dog was used to, and words in a foreign language were used. When the dogs were played the human voice speaking in a familiar language and with the vocabulary enhanced, most turned to the right. That showed the left sides of their brains were processing the words. When played the human voices in an unfamiliar language, most turned to the left, showing the right side of the brain was processing the sound. Most of the dogs also turned to the left when clips of human voices emphasising emotional tone, and removing the vocabulary, were played. The results indicated that to get a stronger reaction from the left side of the brain, there had to be meaningful verbal content. That's the same side of the brain which processes speech in humans. When there was no meaning to speech - where the language was unfamiliar or vocabulary removed - the right side of the brain took over in actively processing the sound. The team also played non-enhanced speech clips to the dogs. That normal speech prompted no such reaction, possibly because both components acted to cancel one another out when all the sound information was received at the same time. Overall, the study found dogs process sound in generally the same way we humans do. So how did this happen? Was it nature or nurture? Further research is now needed into whether this has always been inherent to dogs, or whether thousands of years of domestication by humans has created the situation. It's too early yet to say how much your dog understands, but the study showed he's not just responding to your tone of voice.  
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