The way we live has changed in recent years. Many of us spend more time at work, take more holidays away, and we're connected – all the time – with technology. How might this be affecting our dogs?
Dogs spending more time alone
Longer working hours
Just as modern life impacts our own health, it can affect the lives and routines of our dogs, too. Spending more time at the office or working longer hours results in our dogs spending more time alone, which can lead to separation anxiety and boredom-related behaviours.
We also take more (and longer) holidays away, which can also deprive them of human company and affect their physical and mental wellbeing.
Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety often have an over-attachment to the owner, and so longer periods of time alone with no social contact can produce behaviours associated with this condition, from destructive behaviour within the home to self-inflicted trauma, inappropriate elimination (house soiling) and excessive vocalisation (generally whining, barking and howling).
Owners sometimes use walks as an opportunity to return calls, but this often results in less interaction with our dogs.
The impact of technology on our dogs
Multi-tasking on dog walks
For busy owners, dog walks are also an opportunity to reply to a few messages or emails, or return phone calls. The problem is that this normally results in shorter walks (where the dog is just walked around the block on a lead), or if the dog is taken to a park for exercise, owners can be so pre-occupied with their phone that they show little or no interaction with their pets.
Badly behaved dogs
It is no wonder that our dogs can find modern life stressful. With less time being exercised, dogs will soon become bored, and this can produce behaviours such as bin raiding, a rise in hyperactivity and excitability when the owner is at home.
When out walking and off-lead, dogs can display excessive predatory and social play, which in turn leads to play biting and rough play with other dogs.
There are many ways in which we can help our dogs in modern society and prevent some of the behaviours mentioned above. Here are just a few:
- Dog walks. Daily walks are good for us and good for our dogs. Physical exercise relieves stress and helps to reduce some common behaviours such as excessive barking, chewing and hyperactivity, and it helps keep the dog's weight under control.
- Play games with your dog. Play and games are interactions that dogs love, from agility activities to flyball, scent games and interactive food games.
- Dog walking groups. Regularly meeting up with other dogs and people in different areas helps keep your dog stimulated and well socialised.
- Dog training classes. These can be fun and give the dog some mental stimulation.
- Dog holidays. There are many travel companies that offer different holidays with your dog. From cottages to caravans, there is something for everyone.