For the past two years, many pooches have enjoyed the company of their humans more than normal due to public health restrictions. For dogs, the end of work from home and return to a pre-pandemic social schedule means that once again they will find themselves alone at home for the better part of a day.
Some pets, especially the ones who were adopted during the pandemic, have never experienced a life where they’re alone all day.
This is why many dogs are said to be facing anxiety and are now experiencing some difficulties adapting to this new lifestyle.
While some pups thrive when they’re alone, others find this time to be rather stressful, leading to canine separation anxiety.
Pet owners are reporting excessive barking or howling, reactivity to external sounds and movement, or even destructive behaviour in their dogs.
While this is often a nuisance to both the owner and their neighbour, for the dogs, this is a sign of emotional distress.
One common method recommended by Jacqueline Boyd, a senior Lecturer in Animal Science, Nottingham Trent University is to help dogs adjust is to leave on the radio or TV for your dog when they are alone, to minimise disturbances from outside.
However, it is widely acknowledged that dogs do not watch TV the same way humans do.
For them, watching TV most likely means quality time with their owner, rather than catching up on the latest drama.
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“For breeds and types that are stimulated by chasing objects, movement on TV can create interest and perhaps even activity.”
She is not entirely sure what dogs perceive when they look at screens, even though they tend to react to images
She said: “Dogs do not seem to fully respond to their own reflection in a mirror meaning that we cannot really be sure if they recognise another dog on screen.”
However, experts’ recommendation to turn on the TV may have to do with how dogs react to sound.
Dogs have extremely sensitive hearing, because of which they get excited or soothed when they hear certain sounds or frequencies.
This is why having a radio or TV on can give the impression of “normality” and a presence in the home, which can feel reassuring.
The TV can also be useful in training and desensitising dogs to the sound of unusual noises that might be frightening, or to disguise and drown out external noises that might disturb them.