WITH many dog owners spending more time with their furry friends during lockdown, animal behaviour experts are warning of a spike in separation anxiety.

As owners begin their slow return to work, many dogs who have become use to the constant company may begin suffering with depression, loneliness and separation anxiety.

Trainer and Behaviourist for Agria Pet Insurance, Carolyn Menteith, is offering owners an insight into separation-related behaviour problems and advice to help them avoid issues when their dog is left home alone once more.

She said: "It seems that the winners of the coronavirus-related enforced home time are the nation’s dogs.

"Through the ages, dogs have made such great companions because they are so social - and they transfer their social needs to humans fantastically well.

"Few of us are in any doubt that our dogs love us - and for most dogs, having us at home far more is a joy.

"For those with puppies, this seems like a perfect time to train them, get them used to their new life and begin the bonding process that will last for life. And it is.

"Owners can concentrate on toilet training, playing interactive games, starting to work on training exercises - and just have some relaxing home time building their relationship with their new best friend.

"There is however one big potential problem. What happens as we begin the return to our regular lives? What happens when dogs who are used to having us around all the time have to spend time home alone again?"

Carolyn has released a number of tips to help owners deal with separation anxiety.

Owners need to teach their dog that being on their own is "safe" ” and enjoyable.

Leave your dog with a tasty treat or something fun to do while you're not there such as a Kong toy filled with treats.

Use equipment such as stair gates in doorways so you can prevent your dog following you everywhere all of the time.

Give your dog their dinner and while they are eating, leave the room for a minute.

If you feed them in the kitchen, use a stair gate so you can close that to prevent them following you.

Once you know your dog is happy being left for a few minutes, you can very slowly build up the length of time you leave them.