Our bid to help 7m dogs suffering from separation anxiety
We've launched a campaign to help millions of dogs in the UK who could be struggling to cope when they're left alone.
How to make your pooch the happiest on the block
We've launched #DogKind to help the seven million dogs who find being away from their owners difficult. A large number of which suffer in silence, without showing any clear signs that they're struggling to cope, meaning owners don't often realise that there's a problem. #DogKind aims to raise awareness of this (often hidden) issue to help owners ensure their dogs are the happiest pooches on the block.
#DogKind campaign manager Daisy Hopson said:
We know that owners are the centre of their dog's life. So, when you leave your dog for any period of time, it can be incredibly difficult for them. It's nothing to do with their age, breed or where they've come from. Many dogs don't know how to cope when their owner isn't at home and so are often unhappy when left alone.
Research suggested that 85 percent of dogs may be struggling to cope when left alone. 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. More worrying is the fact that many dogs won't show signs that they are struggling (50 percent of dogs according to one study). Therefore, separation anxiety is easy for owners to miss. In fact, 75 percent of owners surveyed were unaware that their dogs were finding it hard to cope when on their own.
Our own survey found that 22 percent of owners left their dogs for four or more hours. While 53 percent of dogs were left shut inside the house when their owners were out.
Teaching your dog that it's okay to be left alone
Our dog welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, said:
Some dogs who find it difficult to cope when on their own bark/howl or destroy things to show their feelings, others will simply sit there suffering in silence. Like people, dogs express their emotions in different ways, so you may not always know if there is a problem.
The good news is you can help your dog learn that it's okay to be left alone and help your dog to feel calmer and happier while you're out. Even if you're unsure whether your dog is struggling, #DogKind will guide you through the steps you can take to help discover if your dog is finding it difficult to cope and what you can do help.
It's a really important part of any dog's training to teach them that being left alone isn't scary, and so we also have lots of advice on how to teach your puppy or new dog that being on their own isn't a bad thing.
45 percent of owners aren't seeking help
Our research revealed that 20 percent of people reported signs associated with separation related behaviour - but 45 percent of people didn't seek help, with 20 percent saying it was because 'the behaviour doesn't really bother me or my family.'
Dr Gaines added:
There are lots of ways we can help our dogs if they're struggling to be home alone. If they need something to occupy them then it can be a great opportunity to provide enrichment and stimulation such as toys stuffed with treats or puzzle games.
If your dog struggles without company or you are out for longer periods of time then you could ask a neighbour, friend or relative to spend time with your dog or take them out for a walk. If relying on friends & family isn't an option, there are services like DogBuddy which help you find a dog sitter near you for boarding, day care or walking.
However, if you're concerned that your pet is displaying signs of separation related behaviour then we would strongly recommend speaking to your vet or a clinical animal behaviourist for some specialist advice tailored to his or her needs.
Separation anxiety is preventable and treatable
Even if you don't think your dog is struggling, we'd love every owner to try one of our #DogKind methods and see if they can improve their dog's experience of being home alone.