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Could dogs face extreme separation anxiety after lockdown is lifted

April 22, 2020

Spending every waking minute of the day with a human is every dog’s dream. But when coronavirus lockdown ends, canines will have to adjust back to ‘normal life’ without constant companionship – which could lead to problems. Queen Elizabeth II’s corgi trainer has spoken out about how dogs may experience ‘extreme separation anxiety’ after lockdown ends, due to the fact they’ve become overly-dependent on humans. Speaking to The Times, Dr Roger Mugford – an animal psychologist used by the royal family – explained: ‘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.’

He says that pets could show this distress in a number of ways – from chewing furniture, barking, going to the toilet inside or, in more severe cases, ‘self-harm’. Dr Mugford advises that the best way to prepare for lockdown is to get them used to short intervals apart – this could be just 30 minutes to start with. He also suggests placing a webcam in your house to see how your dog responds when left alone. But pets are not the only ones enjoying company. With anxiety on the rise, due to the global pandemic, many of us humans are turning to our four-legged friends for emotional support and comfort. Pet adoption has also risen, as a result of coronavirus. Dr Mugford says it’s important to get these pets ready for life after lockdown, as many will have a ‘huge shock’ once restrictions are lifted.  He urges that periods of separation – starting small and working up to longer spurts – are the best way to help prepare them.

Rachel Casey, director of canine behaviour and research at Dogs Trust agrees that lockdown could trigger anxiety problems for dogs. She urges people to try and get their animals ready for ‘normal life’. She said: ‘Now is the time to act to avoid future problems – and it’s easy to do. ‘Just make sure that you factor in time apart from your dog each day to help them be able to cope when alone – this could be separated from you by a door or child gate for an hour or two whilst you’re working or home schooling the kids. ‘By organising your dog’s day, with time apart, play times, exercise, other activity sessions (like giving them a food filled toy) and quiet times, you can make sure that your dog maintains their ability to cope with the different aspects of “normal” life when we get back to it.’

 

 

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