During the pandemic, many dogs enjoyed having their owners more often than usual due to public health restrictions. But the gradual return to work, along with increasingly busy social calendars, means our dogs are spending more time again. in their own business.
Some of our canine friends – especially dogs who have only known life with their owners since the start of the pandemic – are now finding it difficult to adapt to this new way of life. So, any tool that can provide stimulation and entertainment can be helpful in minimizing their distress and keeping them happy and healthy.
Canine separation anxiety is real
Some dogs like to spend time alone. This gives them the opportunity to enjoy precious time for rest and relaxation – indeed, dogs can benefit from up to 16 hours of sleep per day.
Unfortunately, other dogs find that they are left alone rather more disturbing, which can cause problems separation behaviors.
Excessive barking or yelling, responsiveness to external sounds and movements, or even destructive behavior are commonly reported.
Although they are upsetting and sometimes embarrassing for us, often resulting in expenses and sometimes difficult relations with neighbors, they are also obvious signs of emotional distress in our dogs.
How to Help Dogs Relax When They Are Home Alone
In combination with support training, there is a number of recommended ways to make alone time a little easier for our dogs. These include using interactive feeding toys, creating quiet and safe spaces for them, and walking your dog before going outside.
Another common method is to leave the radio or TV for your dog when they are alone, at minimize disruption from outside. My own dogs often spend their days listening to classical music, which has been shown to be effective in reduce stress in kennel dogs.
Do dogs relate to TV visuals?
It’s widely accepted that dogs don’t watch TV the same way we do – a boxing frenzy means spending time on the couch with their favorite person rather than catching up on the latest blockbuster drama. But our dogs will likely be aware that we are settling down and relaxing when the TV is on, so this combination could be helpful in encouraging them to be calm, even when we are not around.
Dogs do see color neither do we – they see the world in softer colors but can better detect contrast in dim light.
Screen movement can be detected by dogs and there are numerous reports of dogs watching and reacting to animals, cars or other moving objects on television.
For breeds and types stimulated by object pursuit, movements on television can spark interest and maybe even activity. However, you might want to pay attention to what’s around your TV, just in case your dog’s interest gets more lively.
A key question is whether dogs can recognize what they see on the screen. Dogs can certainly react to images and use touch screen devices after training. But it is much more difficult to understand what they are actually seeing.
Dogs don’t seem to fully respond to their own thinking in a mirror which means we can’t really be sure if they recognize another dog on the screen.
The perfume is a important meaning for our dogs, especially in to recognize, and this is clearly missing when a dog is watching TV. But, perhaps by combining the sights and sounds of dogs and other animals, our dogs can still be positively interested and stimulated by television.
Dogs are sensitive to sound
Dogs have very sensitive hearing. They are adept at orienting themselves towards the origin of sounds. The typical dogs head tilt when spoken to – or when they hear a particular type of sound – helps them determine where the sound is coming from.
Certain noises and frequencies will excite or soothe our dogs as well – my own Spaniels enthusiastically respond to the sound of pheasant calls common in TV series.
Having a radio or TV on can give a sense of “normalcy” and a presence in the house, which can be reassuring. It can also be useful for training and desensitizing dogs to the sound of unusual noises that may be frightening, or for camouflaging and covering up outside noises that might disturb them.
The dogs that are physically and mentally stimulated tend to be happier, behave better, and have better relationships with us.
By making their world an interesting and rewarding place, with opportunities to learn about the world and to make positive associations with sights and sounds, we can help them relax and reduce any anxiety life can bring. .
television, radio or training tools, in combination with other beneficial lifestyle choices such as as an exercise, nutrition, companionship and training can go a long way in maintaining a happy and healthy dog. DM / ML
This story was first published in The conversation.
Jacqueline Boyd is Senior Lecturer in Animal Science at Nottingham Trent University.