Are wet winters the cause of depression in dogs?
It seems that dogs are getting bored and beginning to drop hints that it might be time for a visit to a therapist. It’s all down to a spate of unreasonably wet winters, with owners preferring to keep ‘walkies’ to a minimum, according to expert dog trainers. They claim to have seen an unprecedented number of depressed dogs in recent months.
December was the wettest month on record in the UK. Brian Sewell would have hated its outpouring of rain, given his love of dogs in preference to most of his fellow human beings.
In his book, Sleeping With Dogs, he goes as far as to reveal to his readers the unusual fact that his two dogs invariably shared his bed every night, presumably to describe the extent of his closeness to his animals and his total dedication to them.
I wonder whether his dogs would have suffered equally because of this unusual wetness, which would have restricted their daily exercise, or given the nature of their companionship, would have avoided the bout of depression experienced by less fortunate dogs.
Carolyn Menteith, Kennel Club Trainer of the Year 2015, told the Independent:
I’ve been working with dogs for more than twenty years and I can’t remember when they’ve been this bored. I tend to see boredom in bursts but I’m seeing it chronically this winter. People are quite happy to get their dogs out in frosty hard weather but not when it’s muddy and horrible. We have over 200 breeds of dog in this country and an awful lot of them – especially family dogs such as Labradors, retrievers and spaniels – were bred to do a job. So they are hard-wired to work and need a lot of exercise.
Sarah Fisher, a behaviour counsellor said, ‘I’ve never seen our dogs or horses this bored in more than 20 years.’ Nick Jones, of Alpha Dog Behaviour, said that while he had not noticed a difference, dogs varied in their appetite for walking in the rain.
From the little experience I garnered having seen Brian’s dogs on a few occasions, I’ve noticed that boredom was not a feature of their character, since they seemed to get comfort from simply cosying up to their master. They must now miss him terribly.
Buy a copy of his book and see why…