Down, boy? How can you tell if your dog is depressed – and how to help | Dogs

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Surname: Depressed dogs

Age: Since dogs existed – then multiply that by seven to get it into dog years.

So this is a story about dogs? yup

What’s up? They’re down.

It’s the news, I bet: awful stories of dogs being abandoned in Ukraine? No, of course that’s not the reason. This is about dogs showing signs of poor mental health, including anxiety.

I didn’t even know dogs could suffer from poor mental health. You and a quarter of all dog owners.

But it must be rare – how many dogs are we talking about? The survey of 1,000 dog owners by the charity Guide Dogs found that 74% of dogs exhibit behavior that indicates anxiety and depression. That would equate to about 8.8 million dogs across the UK.

And what are those signs? Loss of appetite, destructiveness, low levels of activity.

They’re not so different from us are they? Would chocolate help? I find it does, though not for long, to be honest … Nooo! Absolutely not. Chocolate is toxic to them.

yeah A brisk walk then? Well, yes, regular exercise is important, of course, but there’s often more to it than that. “It’s an outdated viewpoint to think that dogs just need a walk or two a day to be content,” said Guide Dogs’ chief scientific officer Dr Helen Vaterlaws-Whiteside.

So what else should you do, then, to keep them happy? Vaterlaws-Whiteside recommends a lot of mental stimulation, problem-solving puzzles…

Wordle? Labradurdle … More like food-based puzzles. A lick mat say, which has patterned nubs among which you smear spreadable treats. The dog has to work its way around the protuberances to get the treats.

I’d quite like a lick mat. She also recommends taking them on a “sniffari” walk.

Ew, what’s one of them? Essentially a walk, but you allow the dog to stop and sniff whatever they want to.

Like other mutts’ butts? Well yes. So see fox poo. Other sensory activities are available, like turning on a bubble machine in the garden. Did you know you can get bacon-scented bubble solution especially for dogs? Dr Vaterlaws-Whiteside also suggests using a flirt pole …

A flirt pole, what the hell is that? Essentially a string attached to a stick, which entices a dog to chase a fast-moving lure. Anyway, don’t forget, as well as lots of mental stimulation, dogs also need plenty of quality downtime and sleep, too.

Do say: “Come here, good boy, time for shikoku sudoku.”

Don’t say: “Is it a black dog, though, for dogs?”