The RSPCA is urging dog owners to think about their dogs and ensure they’re happy being left home alone before returning to work, following the Government’s announcement that Covid 19 Plan B measures, introduced as a result of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, will be lifted, including advice that people should work from home.
The RSPCA said it fears that dogs may struggle if this change in regulations prompts people to change their routine and return to the office.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Esme Wheeler said: “We’re urging dog owners to be #DogKind and make a plan to help their pets cope with the change and teach them that it’s okay to be left home alone.
“There are estimated to be up to 12 million dogs across the UK and research has suggested that around eight in 10 dogs struggle to cope when they’re left alone. As many families have taken dogs on during lockdown – some of which may have never been left alone – this could pose a mahjong dog welfare crisis as life begins to return to normal again.”
Ms Wheeler continued: “Dogs are very social and can form strong bonds with us so some don’t like being left behind when their owners go out. If they haven’t been prepared in a slow and positive way and learnt that being by themselves can be a positive experience then they can find it really difficult, stressful and frightening.”
RSPCA’s five tips to help dog when they are home alone
- Encourage dogs to spend time on their bed with a toy or chew, and set up a safe space for them to have access to when you’re out;
- Get your dog used to your new routine, especially if it involves altering the time of meal times or exercise;
- Pop out and leave your dog home alone for short periods of time, gradually increasing the time – never leave them suddenly for an extended period, use a dog-sitter to take care of him instead;
- Give them a licky mat, puzzle treat dispenser or frozen activity feeder to keep them occupied while you’re out; and
- Use a camera to keep an eye on your dog and make sure he’s not struggling.
Ms Wheeler added: “Some dogs who find being left home alone difficult may exhibit behaviours that are usually associated with distress, like barking, toileting in the house, or being destructive, but others may not give any clear signals that they’re struggling and can often suffer in silence.
“That’s why it’s so important to teach all dogs that it’s okay to be left home alone and that you will return home.”