Dogs Trust warns of impending dog behaviour crisis

A quarter of dog owners have reported at least one new behavioural problem in their pets during lockdown, according to new research by Dogs Trust

In response to the findings, the charity has  issued advice to owners to help them manage their dog’s behaviour and help their dogs adjust to when they return to work.

It comes as the charity surveyed over 6,000 dog owners in May about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on their dog. 

Some 55% of  owners reported that their dog’s routine had changed drastically, including having less walks, and being less likely to be allowed to run off-lead. 

Owners were also asked about the occurrence of behaviours in different situations before and during the lockdown period. There was an 82% increase in reports of dogs whining or barking when a household member was busy, and a 20% increase in reports of dogs frequently seeking attention from their owner.

In addition, there was a 54% rise in the number of people saying their dog has hidden or moved away when approached, and a 41% increase in reports of dogs being clingy or following people around the house during lockdown

In addition to these findings, the Dogs Trust noted that since lockdown, Google searches for ‘dog bark’ increased by around 48% and searches for ‘dog bite’ increased by around 40%, suggesting that owners were “actively seeking help online about their dog’s behaviour”.

Rachel Casey, director of Canine Behaviour and Research at Dogs Trust, said: “These are challenging times as millions of us across the country have had our daily lives turned upside down. 

“Whilst some dogs have been happy to have their human family at home more, others have been stressed by reduced exercise, inability to find a quiet place to rest or no contact with other dogs. Our research shows some early warning signs that lockdown is having a negative impact on some dogs’ behaviour.”

She added: “A big worry for us is what the long-term impact of lockdown will have on dogs’ ability to cope when left home alone. 

“Dogs that had separation anxiety before the lockdown are likely to get worse when left again as owners head back to work – but we also expect to see new cases developing, because other dogs, and particularly puppies, have learnt to expect company all day. We could well see a rise in the number of dogs needing our help or being abandoned because of this.”

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