[caption id="attachment_68977" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Depressed Pets: New Documentary Looks At Depression In Dogs (photo eCanadaNow)[/caption]British Documentary Purportedly Shows Dogs Can Suffer Depression when Left Home Alone
A British documentary set to air on Channel 4 entitled "Home Alone Dogs" purports to show that beloved pets can in some cases suffer anxiety or depression from excessive hours away from their masters.
The pleasant notion that the pets wait with baited breath for the joyous return of their owners can actually be a harrowing ordeal for some pets. In some heart breaking instances, pets were observed to engage in repetitive motions such as pacing and spinning in response to the absence of their owners.
Other behaviors seen were extended periods of barking or howling, stress-related defecation, and behaviors that would bring harm to themselves. The filmmakers estimate that as many as one in four dogs in the UK demonstrate such behavior from the anxiety of being torn from their owners on a regular basis.
One dog expert stated that the levels of stress hormones in dogs can continue to be high even after their owners return home or despite their otherwise calm behavior.
Dr John Bradshaw, author of In Defence of Dogs, explained: ‘Dogs have a very powerful link to humans. You can train a dog to do all sorts of things and understand our gestures.
‘We expect to turn all that off by saying [to our dogs], “We’re going out – relax, have a kip, chew a bone, we’ll be back soon”.
‘They don’t understand that.’
Owners of dogs suffering from separation anxiety are advised to gradually build up the amount of time they spend away from their pets.
Dr Nicola Rooney from the Veterinary School at the University of Bristol states that while depression for dogs is real, there are skills the owners can learn to help the pets manage or deal with the separation trauma.
She said: ‘There are dogs who are quiet, but when you look at their physiological stress they are affected as well.
‘We don’t want owners to say, “My dogs is suffering but I’m working long hours and can’t do anything about it”, so that lots of dogs get dumped in re-homing centres.
‘There are strategies that can be used.’
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It's a dog's life: Pets depressed because they are left home alone all day by working owners