October 10, 2013 10.23 am This story is over 97 months old

Lincoln professor to feature in secret life of dogs documentary

When the master’s not home: Lincoln Professor Daniel Mills will feature in a Channel 4 documentary which looks into the lives of pet dogs when left alone.

A new Channel 4 documentary that explores the minds of pet dogs will feature the work of veterinary behaviourist Professor Daniel Mills from the University of Lincoln.

The one-hour film Dogs: Their Secret Lives is due to air on Channel 4 at 8pm on Monday, October 14.

The programme will assess how separation anxiety is affecting man’s best friend. Through hidden cameras, footage is set to reveal what dogs get up to while the owners are out.

The investigation also features thermal imagery findings and an analysis by a dog vocalisation expert in an attempt to understand the communication attempts of fretful, howling hounds.

Professor Mills talks about his work, which focuses on the neuroscience underpinning our evaluation of dogs’ emotional systems, explaining how science can tell us more about the anxiety they feel when left home alone and how best to treat it.

“Separation related problems have been identified as one of the main welfare threats to dogs in the UK. The dogs we see in the clinic tend to be those who show their distress at being left alone in a very overt way, for example by being destructive, but we are concerned that there may be another population who are perhaps equally distressed but much more passive about it,” said Professor Mills.

“The dog that curls up in its bed when left may be quite happy, but it might also be quite depressed,” he added.

“We have been working for some time to develop tools which will give us better insight into their emotional responses, so we can answer this type of problem.

“We will showcase one of these methods, which uses thermal imagery, on the programme for the first time. We believe the method has enormous potential but it does require further research.”

In the programme, presenter Mark Evans, former chief vet at the RSPCA, investigates what it all means for the 21st Century dog owner and discovers whether new technology, such as allowing dogs to make phone calls and watch TV, holds the answer to keeping our canine companions happy in the modern British home.

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