Fall has sprung up on us – or has it fallen onto us? Anyway, the children are back in school and the leaves are soon to turn and eventually drop. It’s a nice time of year but as the world turns it bring changes. Changes for you and your dogs. Summer was full or outside activities with family around and lots of fun and frolics. In comparison, Fall can seem rather quiet and dogs sense the change. Children not around so much, if at all (some go off to college), outdoor activities wind down, and the days grow shorter and darker. For the more sensitive ones, especially those who are very attached to family, separation anxiety can appear or reappear in dogs who must now relearn to cope alone in an empty home.
In our now published demographic study of canine behavior problems (recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior), we found almost one in six dogs suffer from overt separation anxiety, so it’s not as rare as some might think. Add to that the other dogs who suffer in silence, the 90% who show increased levels of stress hormones when left alone and you have something of an epidemic of loneliness peaking at this time of the year. We also found that dogs with separation anxiety frequently exhibit thunderstorm phobia, too. Thankfully, as thunderstorms become less likely in the cooler weather, the odds of the double whammy of a thunderstorm occurring when a dog with separation anxiety is home alone also decrease.
Our next study (which we now call study #3) is a work in progress. It examines which professional is best to see to address various problems, like separation anxiety and thunderstorm phobia, and which treatments work best for behavior problems. We are looking at preliminary results now and hope to have the study completely analyzed and publication ready by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, we are just about to launch our mini study project. These mini studies will focus on more specific issues and will entail no more than 10 or 20 questions that will take about to 5 minutes to answer. We have 9 of these mini studies on the starting blocks and will launch one every few weeks going forward. You will be able to read the results of these mini studies on our website. Just to give you a taste of the kind of things we will be researching, the first study looks at the role of early life experiences on adult dogs’ attitudes and emotions. We think we know the right and wrong ways to raise dogs, but it will be nice to know for sure if we are right and to spread the good word.
We also occasionally post “fun questions” to get answers to odd questions that owners may pose. For example, what percentage of dogs walk in circles before lying down or pooping? Once we have the answer, I write and explanation of the behavior and am often surprised at the numerical answers we get. Who would have thought 60% of dogs always or sometimes walk a few steps while pooping … and why do they do that? Fun stuff!
If you have a fun question, please send it to email@example.com and perhaps you will see the answer in print!
Along with our studies, our website, newsletter, Facebook page, and Instagram account we are certainly kept busy, but we have a great and energetic team. Check out all those involved on our website. Thank all of you members and visitors to our site who have participated in our studies or fun questions. Going forward will keep you informed of our results, educated through our findings, and entertained by the answers to our fun questions as we plow onward.
As always, I finish with a call for all of you who appreciate our efforts to consider donating to our not-for-profit enterprise. Believe it or not, we have considerable behind the scenes expenses even though our team consists mainly of volunteers and honorary consultants. Remember the old English nursery rhyme, “Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in CCBS’s hat; if you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do, if you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you!”
Till the Christmas newsletter, signing off for now.
Dr. Nicholas Dodman