DOGS that are left at home alone can feel just as isolated as children abandoned by their parents, a new study suggests. Some dogs suffer from acute desperation and distress when left to their own devices.
“This is a real and ongoing crisis for dogs,” said Dr John Bradshaw, director of the Anthrozoology Institute at Bristol University. He has studied pet behaviour for 25-years and published the book ‘In defence of dogs’ this month.
Video cameras were put in the homes of 20 dog owners who claimed their pet was ‘perfectly happy’ being left at home while they were at work. Some would treat in circles around the doormat while breathing heavily and whining, footage revealed. Many dogs can become destructive when left alone, but owners should not punish their dogs for the damage they caused because they cannot understand why they are being told off, warns Dr Bradshaw.
“They are not good at reasoning, they cannot think back and realise what they did an hour ago is the reason their owner is cross with them.” “That ‘guilty’ look is simply the dog stressing that you are going to punish them.” It is better to help one’s dog cope with being left alone.
“This can be achieved by popping back after a short period to give the dog a treat or some attention, thereby teaching it that you leaving the house results in a positive outcome. Then slowly increase the length of absence until the dog can be left alone all day.”