Whilst the number of dogs suffering is on the rise, the findings unfortunately show that almost half of the British population don’t believe that dogs can experience mental health issues. Dog behaviourist, Louise Glazebrook, says that “mental health issues in dogs is a very real problem, with dogs across Britain suffering from a range of disorders - most commonly depression and anxiety."
With 20% of Brits thinking that dogs are simply acting up for attention, the mental health of dogs is being neglected. However, dogs can feel sad or depressed for many very real reasons. These reasons can include going through a traumatic experience or even having changes taking place in their lives. Other major triggers include abuse from owners, loss of companion (both animal and human), changes in routine, and lack of exercise.
In order to help dogs, Louise urges owners to try to "understand" them, rather than simply reprimand them for their behaviours. She says that “it is always important for an owner to understand the cause rather than simply believing they are being naughty”. Discussing possible solutions, she continues, “dogs are social animals, they love company – not leaving them alone for too long or too often is really important”. Louise’s advice coincides with recent research, which found almost 70% of mental health issues in dogs to stem from being left alone.
Loneliness is the key concern for both dogs and owners, as Rover’s research in Newcastle revealed 76% of dog owners felt guilty about leaving their dog at home alone. However, one quarter of Newcastle owners stated that if they had dog friendly establishments locally, they would always take their pooches with them. Fortunately, with increasing numbers of dog cafes opening around the country, the future looks bright for man and man's best friend.