Give ’em play­time

Rise in bored, anx­ious pup­pies

The People - - LIFESTYLE - By Rachel Spencer

OWN­ERS who let dogs be­come bored and lonely are ditch­ing them in droves when their pets’ men­tal health frays.

A lack of play can cause 22 be­havioural prob­lems, in­clud­ing anx­i­ety, ag­gres­sion, pulling on the lead, whin­ing and not com­ing when called, a Bris­tol Uni­ver­sity study found.

Dog trainer Do­minic Hodg­son said: “It’s heart­break­ing that thou­sands of dogs are handed in to shel­ters and even put to sleep. This could be avoided by own­ers sim­ply un­der­stand­ing they need at­ten­tion and stim­u­la­tion.”

Many peo­ple spend eight hours away from home each day, so dogs are left to de­velop de­struc­tive habits such as chew­ing, dig­ging and get­ting into bins.

Dogs Trust fig­ures show we spend £1,400 a year on our pets, in­clud­ing £360 on groom­ing, £420 on food, £360 on in­sur­ance and £20 on col­lars.

But Do­minic says the key to hav­ing a happy dog is the time you spend with them. And he reck­ons own­ers need to be as en­ter­tain­ing as an­other dog.

He said: “By mak­ing walks fun – OUR vet Brian Faulkner, from Pet­plan, has 22 years of ex­pe­ri­ence and is a free­lancer work­ing all over the coun­try. Send your ques­tions to Brian at: Pet­plan, Great West House, Great West Road, Brent­ford, Mid­dle­sex, TW8 9DX or via Pet­plan’s Face­book page face­book.com/ Pet­planuk. tak­ing out a ten­nis ball, a toy, even a smelly old sock – you can bond and take away the stress of them be­ing badly be­haved through bore­dom.”

Do­minic claims many own­ers get over­whelmed try­ing to fol­low com­pli­cated ad­vice on dog psy­chol­ogy and be­hav­iour and then give up.

He has writ­ten a book, Worry Free Walks, ex­plain­ing how to build a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship with your dog.

Do­minic, 40, from Sun­der­land, said: “The rea­son dogs be­have bet­ter with walk­ers and train­ers is be­cause they work harder to get their at­ten­tion.

“Start by play­ing with their toys and get them to fo­cus on you in the house or where there’s lit­tle dis­trac­tion.

“Each time you go on a walk, take a bag with their favourite toys and tasty treats and play with them. Don’t be em­bar­rassed by hav­ing fun and give them lots of en­cour­age­ment.

“The more you do this, the more your dog will see you with the same level of en­thu­si­asm as they would an­other dog rather than their bor­ing owner they want to run away from.”

See my­dogssu­per­hero.com for tips. MY dog has a large tick bite on his stom­ach. How do I get rid of it with­out hurt­ing him or caus­ing an in­fec­tion or long-term dam­age?

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