A dog is for life, not just for lockdown!
As we come out of lockdown it’s not loo roll, pasta or eggs that’s in short supply, but extraordinarily it’s puppies!
Throughout lockdown the unprecedented demand for puppies has outstripped Britain’s supply, and inquiries to buy a dog are up 180% on this time last year!
Whether this sudden boom in ‘puppy love’ is a reaction to loneliness or to provide entertainment for the kids or simply to reduce boredom, many puppies have been bought without a thought about the future. One thing’s for sure, “A dog is for life, not just for lockdown”!
Sure – dog owners have been the lucky ones through lockdown. Offering constant companionship through the isolation, and a gateway to outdoors and exercise, dog owners have been supported physically, emotionally and mentally by their four legged friends.
The ‘new normal’
But as we prepare to get back to a ‘new’ normal, the concern is that dogs are now so used to having their ‘people’ at home 24/7, doggy anxieties and behavioural issues are forecast to soar.
For many who don’t usually work from home, or those furloughed, their relationships with their dog will have changed so radically that it’s easy to see how new anxious behaviors have emerged.
It’s been the weekend all the time!
With owners at home and not being exercised by dog walkers, and the children aren’t at school, dogs have quite rightly assumed it’s the weekend all the time!
Without a set routine and boundaries that factor in their dog settling alone in their bed whilst time is spent on a laptop, or teaching kids at home, dogs have been seeking and receiving constant attention, which has effectively been rewarded and trained.
A recent study analyzing the impact of lockdown on dogs shows that increased barking is a consistent symptom not only in the UK, but also in Spain and Italy.
It also revealed that 60% of owners found their dog to be a great comfort, whilst around 37% owners said dogs were not coping well, showing signs of nervousness, frustration and attention seeking. Another 20% owners admitted giving their dogs lots more treats!
Changes have been observed even in those dogs used to you working from home
As a seasoned freelancer, my dogs Mr Binks and Prudence are used to me working from home. But I’ve seen how environmental changes have impacted on them. The very dramatic sudden silence in London has been eerie for people, let alone our pets.
It’s enough to put any dog on higher alert and susceptible to barking even to random sounds that become more amplified.
And what about us stressing?
Transferring our own anxieties is another issue. Dogs know when we’re happy or sad. They’ve learnt to read us like a book using their sense of smell, deducing how high or low our stress hormone cortisol is in our breath and sweat.
Stress in people affects every dog differently. Dogs will communicate their anxious feelings by yawning, licking their lips, blinking at you or some might even leave the room!
These ‘calming signals’ are like a barometer for our moods. By learning what your dog is saying, you can modify behaviour to your own advantage and for our dog’s sake lessen the stress – often the cause of anxiety.
Tips for coming out of lockdown
Coming out of lockdown I suggest keeping a lid on our stress levels and getting busy reversing any new unwanted trained behaviours. Things to do might include:
- Discouraging clingy behaviour by investing in child gates to allow your dog time alone
- Occupying them with soothing music, or talk radio to deflect from other stimuli either indoors or outdoors
- Building a strict routine around your dog, ensuring appropriate exercise and enrichment
- Using a ‘tough love’ approach directed at ignoring and distracting any attention seeking behaviours
- Being consistent and working with your dog to help punctuate the day with regular breaks and playtime sessions
- Building up gradually to leaving your dog ‘home alone’
- Encouraging your dog to chew on long lasting options like Himalayan Yak’s Milk Chews, stag antlers and hooves – the natural process releases happy hormones, helping your dog relax and settle
A stronger relationship
There’s a chance that through lockdown we’ve got to know our dogs better, and that by spending more time together, including regular walks, that our relationships will be stronger than before.
A version of this article first appeared in Lish London.
Anna Webb (www.annawebb.co.uk) is a broadcaster and author. She has studied natural nutrition and therapies with the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT). She lives in London and is owned by Prudence, a Miniature Bull Terrier, and Mr Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier.
More information about the health care that Molly, Prudence and Mr Binks have had are to be found in Anna’s book, Manage Canine Arthritis Naturally. This covers a multidisciplinary approach involving a raw diet, supplements, acupuncture, massage, homeopathy, a careful exercise and rest regime, and of course, Photizo. Wound treatment is also highlighted. Not just for dogs, she also includes her cat Gremlin. The ethos behind the book is that every animal is an individual and should be treated as such.
Disclaimer – This blog was created by a guest author. CAM4Animals has reproduced this in good faith but cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies of information in it or any use you make of this information.
The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (other than your own) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health.