Dogs are heading for a mental health crisis with a third of owners saying theirs has shown signs of anxiety.
Though more pampered than ever, 65 per cent of dogs suffered with anxiety, one in five has experienced stress and seven per cent have OCD, research by Rosewood Pet found.
The findings were backed by animal behaviourist and anxiety expert Helen Motteram who says stress will rise until owners become more responsible.
âPeople arenât as respectful to dogs as they were,â Helen said. âParents let their children approach dogs without checking theyâre comfortable.
âDisruptive owners let dogs bound up to other dogs on leads and frighten them â this stays with them for life.
âThere are animals coming from abroad who find themselves in an alien environment which unsettles them.
âDogs spend more time indoors and alone. People donât meet up with friends for walks and theyâre a chore rather than a social engagement. Lots of people have dogs but donât really have the time for them and this impacts on their emotional wellbeing.â
Signs include lunging, barking, sniffing the ground to avoid confrontation, stopping and staring or fixating.
And Helen says owners should keep their dogs away from those on a lead.
She said: âItâs incredibly rude to let your dog run over and jump all over them. It puts both dogs in danger.
âMany owners just say, âOh, my dogâs friendly or wants to play.â But the dog could be ill, elderly, recovering from surgery or in training.
âIf you canât call your dog back, you shouldnât let them off their lead.â
Owner Sarah Beckley Jones got so fed up with telling people to keep their dogs away from her pet Bella she started the yellow My Anxious Dogs range.
âThe Yellow Dog Project began in America,â she said. âItâs where owners dress dogs in yellow collars, leads and accessories so others give them space.
âAs the owner of an anxious dog I wanted to raise awareness, which led to me making my products in the hope of making life easier for the dogs.â