Dogs suffer isolation as owners return to face-to-face activities

A study published in February 2022 by the scientific journal Animals analyzed the relationship between the routine of dog owners in the UK, in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic, and the animals’ risk of separation anxiety – which, as the name suggests. . It suggests that it is the image of anxiety and fear that an animal faces when it is alone and away from its owner, causing suffering.

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The results show that 1 in 10 dogs developed new signs of separation anxiety (which was not present previously) in a period when the pandemic restrictions were relaxed – a scenario in which the dog may spend more time alone, after a period in which the owner has stayed at home.

In Brazil, with the improvement of the epidemic, many people have returned to face-to-face or hybrid activities. And how does the puppy get used after more than two years to the presence of its owner in the house?

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According to Camille Chamonix, a dog welfare and behavior consultant, of Belo Horizonte (MG), editor of all social media “Your French Country” and a graduate of Genetics and Molecular Biology, the animal’s chance of developing separation anxiety in this scenario is high. In their visits over the past two years, 9 out of 10 people reported this problem.

“The suffering caused by the owner’s absence is so severe that it is equivalent to human panic syndrome. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety are already emotionally vulnerable and show this with physical signs: excessive barking or crying, destructive behaviors that did not happen before or do not occur in the owner’s presence, “Forgetting” where the bathroom is, not eating or drinking water in the absence of the owner, drooling to the point of making puddles of saliva on the floor, scratching the exit door from the house, etc. “, embodies Chamonix.

Health problems associated with stress, such as skin diseases, diarrhea and frequent vomiting, can also appear.

This situation is mainly caused by a combination of two factors: a poor environment of stimuli and a highly dependent relationship between the dog and the owner.

“If the animal has nothing to do, it begins to redirect attention to the owner. On the other hand, by staying more at home during an epidemic, it gives this attention all the time. In these cases, the dog associates the presence of this person as essential to its daily life; in His absence, he panicked”, details the behaviorist.

The risk is greatest when there is a street adoption, young or adult. “After spending a period of deprivation, upon entering a home, with its basic needs (food, water, shelter) met and a world of attention, this animal will be more apt to develop that anxiety in the absence of its owner,” it reports.

Also, contrary to common sense, bringing another dog home can make the situation worse. “In counseling, I note that the second can end up imitating the behavior of the first; in addition to having a dog in suffering, a person begins to have two, because behavior inappropriate for one upsets the other,” he analyzes.

To solve the problem, it is recommended to seek guidance from a dog behavior specialist. One step is to work on the animal’s independence while the owner remains indoors, accustoming it to being in your presence, but without direct access to it.

Simple actions help, as Chamonix stated: “When working from home, it is important to stay in an environment different from the dog and enrich its space with stimuli, offering, for example, a gnaw bone or interactive toys with food. At bedtime, the ideal thing is to get it out of human bed “.

And if a person is already facing a face-to-face scenario, it makes sense to leave the dog at an acquaintance’s home or in a good day care – with professionals who understand dog behavior – until the problem is resolved. The consultant analyzes “If the animal has already developed separation anxiety, the more lonely it is, the more it will suffer and misbehave.”

Despite the challenges, it is possible to treat the condition and provide a better quality of life for both. “A dog lives, on average, 15 years. It is important to solve the problem as quickly as possible – and with professional follow-up and dedication, it is done in about four months, which can change his life. The dog and the owner will certainly be safer and happier.”

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