14 May 2021

Missing your dogs while you're at work? You might not be the only one

| Lottie Twyford
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Unfortunately we can’t be with our dogs all the time. Photo: Daniella Jukic.

Many of us might miss our dogs while at our work desks but did you know your furry friend might be feeling the same way?

And as some dog owners may have noticed, dogs that miss their owners too much or can’t cope with time alone can start engaging in destructive behaviour.

A new study from Royal Canin has shown that 52 per cent of dogs across Australia are now suffering from post-lockdown separation anxiety.

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson says the organisation did note a decrease in animals surrendered during the height of ‘work from home’.

“This proves there is a COVID silver living that confirmed pets are happier and healthier when they spend more time with their owners.

“Anecdotally, we saw that animals were less likely to stray or be given up and surrendered to the RSPCA if their owners are spending more time with them working on behavioural needs,” she said.

However, for animals that spent much of the last year at home with their owners, it’s now been difficult for them to transition back to spending more time alone.

In the case of puppies who have only ever known life with owners at home 24/7, the sudden separation is now causing stress, anxiety and sometimes disruptive behaviour.

READ ALSO RSPCA’s Pets of the Week – Marley, Biscuit and Snuggy

According to the study, some of these disruptive behaviours can include following you around the house, trying to leave with you, howling, barking, pacing or chewing and destroying things when they’re alone or even reacting to noises they wouldn’t normally react to when you’re home.

The same study showed that 37 per cent of dog owners do not feel as though they are adequately equipped to manage their pet’s separation anxiety.

Ms Robertson urged Canberra dog owners not to give up before trying to find solutions.

“Remember why you wanted a pet in the first instance – and please remember that all good things and relationships are worth investing in,” she said.

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Likewise, the RSPCA is keen to remind people that most of the negative behaviours can be changed with love, time, patience and training.

Enrichment activities and interactive toys for dogs to engage in when they’re home alone or leaving a TV or radio on can all help combat these behaviours.

The RSPCA said dogs like classical music or other soothing sounds or an audio book. It can also be worthwhile to try and stick to a routine as much as possible, and when you do come and go, make it as ‘boring’ as possible.

However, if none of these tips nor working with an expert is helping, pet owners may have to let their pet go to a home where they can be with people all day.

“If for whatever reason you are not able to look after your pet the way that it should be, please do not use social media platforms to re-home and please don’t give your pets away to people you do not know,” Ms Robertson urged.

Instead, the RSPCA asks that you get in touch with them or another reputable rescue group.

If you are considering adopting a pet from the RSPCA in the ACT or are looking for more information, visit RSPCA ACT.

Alternatively, keep an eye out for the weekly Pets of the Week post from the RSPCA ACT on The RiotACT.

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