Dogs at risk of major ‘separation anxiety’ once lockdown is over, expert warns

Lifestyle

An animal psychologist has warned that while our four-legged friends might be overjoyed we’re all spending more time at home, there could be consequences when lockdown ends

With the UK currently on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, dogs all over the country have gotten to spend a lot of extra time with their owners.

One little pup was so excited about this that he even managed to break his tail from wagging it too hard.

And while all these additional walks and playtimes have been great, it’s worth having a think about preparing your pet for when things go back to normal and lockdown restrictions are lifted.

This is the advice animal psychologist Dr Roger Mugford, a consultant for the Royal Family, has offered to dog owners this week as he warns that pets might experience separation anxiety once we return to work and school.

Speaking to The Times, he said: “With such an overload of quality time with their families, dogs are building up a huge reservoir of over-dependency which could see them suffer when mums and dads suddenly return to work and the children go back to school.

“The lockdown is such a massive change in routine. When it’s lifted it’s going to be a huge shock for dogs. That’s why structured, short training periods of separation are really important.”

The expert, from Chertsey, Surrey, went on to share some of the ways this could manifest in your dog, listing signs of distress such as howling, barking, pacing and urinating and defecating inside.

He added that some dogs might even self harm.

So what can you do to minimise the risk of separation anxiety?

Dr Mugford suggested introducing short “separation breaks” to get the dogs used to time without you around again.

He instructs clients to lock their dog in a separate room in the house for about 30 minutes at a time, several times a day to get them used to being on their own.

This advice is seconded by Animal Welfare charity, Blue Cross.

In a post on their website, they further explain how to deal with a dog’s separation anxiety and why they experience it.

It reads: “Dogs, like us are very social animals. They would naturally live in family groups and have ‘evolved’ alongside humans over thousands of years to ‘work’ with us and live as our companions.

“Most dogs would choose to spend the majority of their time in our company. Some might actually prefer the company of their own kind, but what is certain, is that being alone just doesn’t come naturally for most.

“Although dogs should never be left for too long on their own, if they get used to being left for short periods when young, they are likely to grow up feeling relaxed and comfortable when left on their own for some part of the day.”