DOG owners are being urged to start preparing for the easing of lockdown in Scotland – with our furry friends facing separation anxiety after months of extra human contact.

Before tighter measures were introduced, most dogs were likely suited to the routine of their owners – which included being left indoors while they went out for work.

But since March, thousands more people in Scotland have been working from home. 

The immediate impact would, of course, prove to be popular with your four-legged friend – however animal experts are warning of the consequences once lockdown ends.

Speaking to Radio Clyde News, Alan Grant from the Scottish SPCA said there will likely be “teething problems” for dogs as measures ease further and office working returns. 

Stirling News:

He told the radio station: “Dogs are much like us, any change to the routine or their day-to-day life is going to have an impact on them.

“We’ve all had to change and work from home and adapt our working protocols, which has been difficult for us at the beginning but we’re now more used to it. It’s the same for the dogs. 

“Dogs may have been a bit unsettled at the beginning with the owners being there but they’ve now adapted to that situation – and it’s now about adapting to going back to the old situation of the owner not being there, and that’s where there will be a bit of teething problems for a lot of people at the beginning.”

So what can I do?

The Scottish SPCA have urged owners to start with "micro" changes now - leaving their dogs for a short period of time with something to keep them occupied.

They also suggest investing in a camera to have a greater understanding of your dog's behaviour when you are not there.

Mr Grant continued: "We want to start right now with very small changes, we call it stress inoculation. If we never leave our dogs, they’re never going to get used to it. 

"So we would leave them for micro amounts of time – but we’d do a lot of stuff before we went to leaving them.

"We’d look at their day-to-day life and how can we make that life more enriching.

"Are they food motivated? If so, can we give them something that will take them five or ten minutes to eat, while we leave for five or ten minutes – then see how they are.

"Something else that is a great idea is to get a camera and see how your dog is actually behaving when you go out. 

"That way you’ll know whether they go sleep for half an hour and then get up and start panting or is it immediately when we leave."

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They seem to cope well?

Mr Grant told the radio station it is "imporant" to know how your dog reacts to being left on its own. 

He continued: "If they are confident being left on their own for a short while, then we probably don’t need to deal with separation anxiety because they can cope being left.

"If that is the case, we just need to build up on that time that they are on their own.

"Something like getting a camera can be very much to your advantage so we know what we are dealing with – perhaps revealing that they can cope fine but just get bored, so we can enrich their life and give them other things to do so that they are not as bored when you go out."

What if they struggle?

This likely means your dog suffers from seperation anxiety.

Symptoms of this include if your dog starts pacing and panting the moment you leave the door.

In that case, Mr Grant says, you "would maybe need to look at some form of tailored programme for your particular dog if that is the case – but without knowing that it’s very hard to make that call."

You can find our more information from the Scottish SPCA here.