Regular readers will know writing about issues surrounding our pets is a huge passion of mine.
Recently, I spoke to Helen Motteram of Social Paws in Cheltenham about her work as a behaviourist.
Her niche is helping anxious pets and she works tirelessly to help owners understand the signs of stress in our dogs.
I interviewed her for my blog, but then came across some research by Rosewood Pet about the rise in mental health issues in our pets.
Having had an anxious pet myself, I wanted to spread the word and as well as interviewing Helen, I spoke to Sarah Beckley Jones, founder of the My Anxious Dog accessory range too.
The following piece appeared in the Sunday People and you can read it here.
THE nation’s animals are heading for a mental health crisis as a third of owners said their pet had shown signs of anxiety.
While our pets are more pampered than ever, emotionally they’re struggling and dogs are the most vulnerable.
Research by Rosewood Pet found 65 per cent of dogs suffered with anxiety, one in five has experienced stress and seven per cent have OCD.
Behaviourist and anxiety expert Helen Motteram says as the canine population rises, unless owners become more responsible, so will dog’s stress levels.
She said: “People aren’t as respectful to dogs as they were. Parents let their children approach dogs without checking they are comfortable.
“You have disruptive owners who let dogs bound up to other dogs who are on leads and frighten them and this stays with them throughout their life.
“There’s animals coming from abroad who find themselves in an alien environment which unsettles them.
“Dogs spend more time indoors and alone. People don’t meet up with friends for walks and they’re a chore rather than a social engagement.
“Lots of people have dogs but don’t really have the time for them and this impacts on their emotional wellbeing.”
Signs of anxiety include lunging, barking, sniffing the ground to avoid confrontation, stopping and staring or fixating. Anyone who is concerned should seek help from a behaviourist.
And Helen says owners who see dogs on leads should keep away from them. She said: “It’s incredibly rude to let your dog run over to one on a lead and jump all over them.
“It puts both dogs in danger but so many owners just say, ‘Oh, my dog’s friendly or wants to play.’ But the dog could be ill, elderly, recovering from surgery or in training.
“If you can’t call your dog back, you shouldn’t let them off their lead.”
Owner Sarah Beckley Jones agrees. She got so fed up of telling people to keep their dogs away from her anxious pup Bella she started the My Anxious Dogs accessories range.
Sarah said: “The Yellow Dog Project started in America and it’s where owners dress dogs in yellow collars, leads, harnesses and accessories to tell others to give them space.
“It’s starting to take off over here but as the owner of an anxious dog I wanted to raise awareness, which led to me making my products in the hope of making life easier for the dogs.”
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