Sat, Jan 13, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Urban loneliness is causing depression in dogs: trainers

By Hsiao Ting-fang and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The incidence of separation anxiety and depression in dogs is on the rise due to owners’ long working hours, dog trainers said.

The Taipei Animal Protection Office on Wednesday held an event to advertise the city’s online pet ownership school, with classes taught by animal trainers Joeson Hsu (許朝訓), Wang Yu-chih (王昱智), Annie Chen (陳玉玲) and others.

Topics include animal psychology, pet care, analysis of pet behavior and house training tips. All classes are accessible via the Taipei E-University Web site, the office said.

Puppies and young dogs are more likely to develop separation anxiety as a result of the prolonged absence of their owners, which can lead to a host of behavioral issues, Hsu said.

“In modern cities, people have to work long hours to make a living, ” he said. “We have a lot of people coming in for consultations about pet behavioral problems.”

Dogs adopted from animal shelters are more prone to separation anxiety, because they were often prematurely separated from their pack, Hsu said.

Loneliness is the underlying cause of separation anxiety, and dog owners should be attentive to their pets’ psychological needs and make an effort to ensure their dogs have companionship.

Busy dog owners could consider hiring a dog sitter who is patient and well-versed in reading canine body language to spend time with their dogs in their stead, he added.

“A lot of dog owners think they can raise dogs like children, but dogs are not human and their nature is different from ours,” he said.

The shiba inu is the most frequently maladjusted city dog and often displays aggression toward cars and people, he said.

The border collie is the second-most mischief-prone breed because their instinct to herd sheep can find no release in an urban environment, he said.

Mixed dogs are instinctively vigilant and aggressive because they are descended from strays, which makes them susceptible to nervousness and quick to bark or howl, Hsu said.

Dog owners should adhere to rules in their daily interactions with their pets because clear boundaries are psychologically comforting for dogs, Chen said, adding that they should be allowed to play with other dogs.

A pet training school for cats and dogs is to be opened for the public in spring and city residents with pets are welcome to register on the office’s Web site, it said.

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