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(Updated 30/8/01)

Dogs pay the price of owners' 'Bridget Jones' lifestyles

DOGS OWNED by young people are more likely to be destructive, noisy or messy in the house when left alone at home, according to new research released by the Blue Cross animal welfare charity.

An NOP poll reveals that almost two thirds (62%) of younger dog owners (aged 25-34) say they experience problems such as destructive behaviour, messing or wetting or incessant howling when they leave their dog alone at home.

In comparison, less than one quarter (23%) of dog owning pensioners - at an age when people generally have more leisure time - say they experience problems with their dog.

"Dogs are highly social creatures that thrive on companionship," said Head of Animal Behaviour Services for the Blue Cross, Gwen Bailey.

"Unfortunately, when people try to juggle busy work and social lives the needs of their dogs can be forgotten."

The Blue Cross believes it is possible to juggle hectic lifestyles but warns that dogs should not be left at home alone for more than four hours at a time.

"Dogs that are left alone at home for prolonged periods of time quickly become bored or anxious, which can lead to them taking their frustration or stress out on the furniture, messing in the house or barking or howling until their owner returns," said Ms Bailey.

Two leaflets are available from the Blue Cross to help people cope with dogs that have separation problems. 'Home Alone' is aimed at dog owners whose pets suffer from separation probles due to anxiety, and 'Chewing and how to survive it' helps owners to deal with dogs that are destructive in the house. To request a copy of either leaflet, call the Blue Cross on 01993 825500.