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How to help dogs and their mental health

King Charles Spaniel
King Charles Spaniel Image credit: helpguide.org

We all know a dog with a waggly tail is a sign of happiness, but what are the signs to show if a pooch is in distress?

A study by Guide Dogs of 1,000 dog owners shows almost three quarters of canines in the UK are suffering from their mental health.

Around 8.88 million [74%] of pooches are going through depression or anxiety without their owners realising, 18% are giving off signals they are unhappy once a week.

If a dog has lost their appetite, become destructive or has low activity levels this could indicate they have a mental health condition.

Dogs who lose interest of pastimes they used to enjoy, or are constantly barking and hyperactive, maybe bored or just plain fed up.

The most productive way to cheer a dog up is taking them on a long walk and giving them treats. But other ways to give a pooch mental stimulation through interactive toys or puzzle games.

Dr Helen Whiteside, chief scientific officer at Guide Dogs, said: ‘It’s an outdated viewpoint to think that dogs just need a walk or two a day to be content. 

'Without different forms of mental stimulation, dogs can begin to show signs of behavioural issues, such as anxiety and frustration, which can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing.’

Whiteside suggests giving your dog a lick mat, problem-solving puzzles and taking them on a ‘sniffari’ walk where they can stop and sniff whenever they feel like it.

A dog’s sense of smell is at least 40 times better than a humans.