Dogs Face 'Separation Anxiety' After Coronavirus Lockdown Lifted, Expert Warns

21 April 2020, 12:42

Dogs face 'separation anxiety' once lockdown is lifted
Dogs face 'separation anxiety' once lockdown is lifted. Picture: Instagram: @arianagrande/@hatchisgreatadventures

Dogs are at risk of developing separation anxiety when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted and owners start returning to work, a leading animal psychologist has warned.

Dogs may be enjoying the lockdown, with their owners stuck in the house all day, but experts have warned that pets could be facing severe separation anxiety once life returns to normal.

Dr Roger Mugford, an animal psychologist used by the royal family, has told The Times that owners should start preparing their pets now so they can cope when coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

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"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 said.

"When left alone, dogs can chew the house, annoy the neighbours by constantly barking, urinate and defecate inside, sometimes even self harm. Put a webcam on your dog and you’ll see howling and pacing and other distress signs."

Dr Mugford suggests in the paper that owners should introduce short periods of self-isolation for their dogs.

His advice is that owners should lock their pets in a different room in the house for 30 minutes, several times a day, to train them to cope with loneliness - just as they had to before the lockdown.

Spending more time with your dogs during the lockdown could cause separation anxiety when restrictions are lifted
Spending more time with your dogs during the lockdown could cause separation anxiety when restrictions are lifted. Picture: Getty

This advice is particularly important for young dogs: Blue Cross recommends that if puppies get used to being left for short periods, "they are likely grow up feeling relaxed and comfortable when left on their own for some part of the day."

The charity says that wherever you choose to leave your dog when you're away from them, such as a utility room or kitchen, they should be allowed to use this area normally too.

"You want them to feel as comfortable and relaxed as they possibly can, and if they only get put in this area when they are left, they may learn to only associate it with isolation," they advise.

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