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Is Your Dog Anxious When You Go Out?

01 August 2016

UK - What do our pets get up to when we go out to work each day? A new animated film could help pet owners understand separation related behaviour.

The Secret Life of Pets, now out in cinemas, tells the tale of Max and his animal friends' adventures when their owners aren’t around.

The RSPCA is hoping the film will raise awareness of the number of dogs being left alone on a daily basis, and are advising animal owners to seek help for their pets if they think they may have separation issues.

What is separation related behaviour?

Separation related behaviour can be destructive behaviour, often targeted at the door the owner has left through. It can include howling, barking or whining, defecating and urinating, and normally starts in the first 30 minutes of being left alone. Dogs can also show more subtle signs of being stressed or unsettled such as salivating excessively, vomiting, self-mutilating or acting in a repetitive way.

Research carried out for the Channel Four’s Dogs: Their Secret Lives found that of the dogs studied, 85% showed signs of not coping when left alone. In the UK, where there are thought to be 8.5 million pet dogs, that could mean more than 7 million dogs suffering from stress and anxiety.

Expert advice

Dr Samantha Gaines, our dog welfare expert has said: “Separation related behaviour and anxiety has the potential to be a significant welfare problem.”

“It is a hidden issue as, by its very nature, it only happens when the owner is absent and unless the dogs is filmed when left alone, it can be difficult to know if your dog is struggling.”

"If you are unsure as to what your dog does when on his or her own then filming them can help reassure you that he or she is ok. If they are not then we would encourage owners to seek treatment from a clinical animal behaviourist."

Treatment and prevention

Separation related behaviour is also preventable, and there is lots of information available on our website for new owners, including a step-by-step guide to teach your dog that it’s all right to be alone.

Some tips for leaving your dog alone include exercising and feeding your dog before you go out, and leaving something to keep him busy so he doesn’t get bored. It’s also important to remember not to punish your dog if they have been to the toilet or been destructive while you are out as it could damage your relationship or make them even more anxious.

ThePetSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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