Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Barking Blondes: Doggy Day Care

Joanne Good and Anna Webb
Doghome 768x1024 Barking Blondes: Doggy Day CareThe latest research by the RSPCA reveals that a staggering 85% of Britain’s dogs are suffering from being left alone.  The charity is now campaigning to make owners aware of the natural ‘pack’ instincts in their dog.
Whilst more and more humans enjoy a solitary lifestyle, dogs on the other hand often crave companionship. The responsible owner should commit to their dog and understand its needs.
Dogs like to live in groups with ’familiars’, similar to their distant relative, the wolf. The domesticated dog likes to bond and belong to a family group. When left alone, dogs become distressed as it’s not a natural state for them.
Last year, a ground-breaking documentary, The Secret Lives of Dogs’ revealed that more dogs suffer from separation anxiety in the UK than previously thought, with owners oblivious to their dogs’ distress.
Using hidden cameras, the ‘Secret Lives of Dogs, captured over 70 undesirable and often distressing behaviours, caused from being left home alone.
As well as showing typical signs of getting up to mischief, such as stealing food from kitchen counters or opening fridge doors, others were more distressed. Wrecking table legs, the skirting board, or defecating around the home….. even self harming and chewing their paws…this was worrying evidence. Whatever the symptom, the cause is the same – anxiety driven.
Scientists also analysed saliva samples for a rise or fall in cortisol levels pre and post being left alone. Cortisol is the hormone that’s released when we’re fearful or anxious and stressed. It had increased in over 85% of the dogs taking part in the study. Based on around 8.5 million dogs living in Britain, that equals 7 million dogs suffering from anxiety when left alone.
Separation anxiety is a totally treatable condition and with expert help it’s possible to train your dog to learn that being home alone can be fun, a normal part of routine. The reward is knowing that you will be coming home!
The general rule is that dog shouldn’t be left for more than four hours, but some dogs can’t even cope with four minutes!
Close on the heels of fashionable Manhatten, London now is peppered with doggy crèches offering doggy daycare. They are not cheap and can be compared to fees for a child’s nursery….
Just take a walk through any municipal park and its easy to see the popularity of payed Dog Walkers.
There is always a risk element in leaving your dog in someone else’s care. Even with the best intentions, accidents can happen when several dogs get together in a creche environment.  Out on a walk similarly a dog might slip its collar and bolt, another dog might bully it……or worse.
Daycare is useful every now and again, but is it fair to palm your dog off every day? Maybe it’s a little selfish on our part to assume a daily dog walk is enough stimulation for your dog, whilst Fido patiently waits for you to return home from work
Rescue charities strive to ensure that dogs are re-homed to people able to be there and cater for their needs.
What we must understand is that dogs are extremely social creatures with emotions, thought processes and feelings – they like to spend time with their ‘pack’.
Barking Blondes by Jo Good & Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £12.99www.octopusbooks.co.uk

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