The modern family dog as we know it suffers from loneliness, separation anxiety, and high expectations, and it’s something that should not be taken lightly according to danish scientists.
Separation anxiety and behavioral problems.
These are just a few of the issues that mans best friend, the dog, suffers from every single day. At least that,s what scientists from the University of Copenhagen conclude in a new study that has just been published in Applied Animal Behavior Science.
In the study, they compare the general well-being of the modern family dog with the so-called village dog, which is a colloquial term for domestic but semi-feral dogs that live in and around human habitations or travel alongside nomadic tribes.
According to the scientists, the family dog will have the same type of high standard of living as village dogs, when it comes to security, access to veterinarian help, and proper food,
But the results are very different when it comes to the mental well-being of the dogs.
“Many people believe that modern family dogs are way too spoiled, but the actual fact is that a lot of them suffer due to loneliness and unrealistic expectations from their owners, which can ultimately lead to anxiety, depression, or aggressive behavior. Issues that village dogs typically don’t suffer from”– Iben Meyer – Dog behavior expert at the University of Copenhagen
So life as a typical family dog usually comes at a cost for the dog, as their nature is to run around freely among other dogs and humans, just as village dogs do.
A Dogs Frustrations Might Lead to Euthanasia
Life in the western world typically involves the family being away from home for several hours each day, leaving the dog home by itself.
“Dogs that spend a lot of time home alone, or dogs that haven’t gradually been trained to be alone, can get affected by separation anxiety or other separation-related issues, such as boredom and being frustrated.”– Iben Meyer
And that can lead to the dog starting to chew on your furniture, peeing on the floor, or destroying your home in other ways.
“These are all issues that might lead to some dog owners relocating their pups or even putting them to sleep. And while the majority of the dogs suffer is less destructive ways, that doesn’t mean their issues are not as severe.”– Iben Meyer
Long and lonely days are in quite the contrast to the expectation a lot of dog owners have on what their dogs’ should be able to do socially. The dog is expected to get along with other dogs, allow itself to be pet by strangers on the streets, and generally always be ready to please its owners.
And that’s not always realistic.
In contrast to the village dog that roams around with other dogs in small packs, and decides who they want to interact with, the family dog doesn’t have that kind of socialization.
Gives Dog Owners Something To Think About
Senior scientist at the University of Aarhus, Karen Thodberg, thinks it’s a very interesting study, even if the findings aren’t a surprise to her.
“It’s something that really gives dog owners something to think about. As the researchers say, the dog is supposed to be kind to other dogs, easy to be around, and calm and well-balanced, but it’s not something that just happens. You have to make sure you create the best possible environment for the dog growing up”– Karen Thodberg
That’s also why she thinks that dog owners really have to take a close look at themselves and consider what it really is they can offer a dog.
“It’s a small number of dogs that can really live up to the expectations as being the ideal dog, that’s both capable at being left alone for several hours, and be socially perfect around other dogs. So it’s very important you know what it really takes to have a dog before you adopt one.”– Karen Thodberg
How To Make Life Easier For Your Dog
If you want to make life easier for your dog, the research says that you have to accept that dogs aren’t always capable to live up to every single expectation you might have.
“We can’t release the hounds as their nature intended, but we must be aware that dogs are animals with social needs that we haven’t been good at dealing with. You can’t just lock a dog in your home for 10 hours a day, and then expect it to do everything you might want socially. The dog should have its own say in whether it wants to be touched by strangers or not as an example.”– Peter Sandøe
“Most dogs are able to learn how to be left alone throughout the day, but I do believe we can do a bit more to meet the dogs’ social needs than we currently do. As an example, in Sweden, they’ve made a law that states a dog is only allowed to be left alone at home for up to six hours at a time.”– Peter Sandøe
Some of My Favorite Products For Dog Owners
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If you’re looking for the most up-to-date recommendations, check out my recommended products section that I’ve created to help every dog owner!