The impact of Lockdown on dog behaviour

Over a quarter of owners (26%) say their dog has developed at least one new problem behaviour during lockdown, according to the newest research released from Dogs Trust.

I remember back last year in the first lockdown, we professionals were talking about the worries of this, and what it could bring. Mostly the topics included barking increase through poor socialisation, separation anxiety and attention seeking, and we weren’t far off.

Check out the results from the research study

The majority of owners (55%) reported that their dog’s routine had changed a lot, including having less walks as owners stuck to government guidance of one outing a day, and there was a deduction in them being allowed to run off-lead. Worryingly over a quarter of dog owners (26%) reported that their dog showed at least one new problem behaviour during lockdown.

Owners were also asked about the occurrence of behaviours in different situations before and during the lockdown period.
The findings showed there was an: 

  • 82% increase in reports of dogs whining or barking when a household member was busy
  • 20% increase in reports of dogs frequently seeking attention from their owner 
  • 54% rise in the number of people saying their dog has hidden or moved away when approached
  • 41% increase in reports of dogs being clingy or following people around the house during lockdown

In addition to these findings, after lockdown started, Google searches for ‘dog bark’ increased by around 48% and searches for ‘dog bite’ increased by around 40% suggesting that people were actively seeking help online about their dog’s behaviour.

This is concerning.

I’m afraid to say I only see it getting worse too, because for all the dogs in the country, I imagine only 1 in 10 of them will actually see a professional who will be able to truly to help them. I also forecast an increase in the amount of people stating to be dog trainers, but aren’t, because of this.

Really fucking concerning.

Another point to note on this was a post regarding puppies turning into terrible teenagers, and as the puppy purchases soared through the roof during the lockdowns, unfortunately as they aged and these problems starting appearing, the rescue centres soon filled up again.

As it stands, I haven’t seen much in the way of behaviour change in my own dogs, probably bar a little attention seeking, but that was picked up quickly and I amended my new at home and being lenient on house space routine, fairly sharpish. But I know of people who have been struggling massively.

The panic, the uncertainty and not to mention the dog driving you up the wall every which way you turn. It can get stressful.

And if you’re noticing changes in your dogs, or seeing more problematic behaviours in them, then I can’t stress how important it is to seek the help from the beginning. What’s even better, is seeking help before anything goes wrong at all really, but what’s done is done, so now we need to start finding solutions.

As we started lockdown, I quickly recognised the one outing a day could be a problem for some people with more active dogs, so created the Facebook group and welcomed in over 800 people who were ready to learn more about dog training. After this, a good few people continued their training journey, and I just have to share these, because it’s means now they’re a lot less worried about how their dog will behave in public, or they won’t have any issues what so ever with leaving them at home, when it’s time for them to return to work/ nip out to pick the kids up or such like.

Check it out:

Upon seeing this research, I couldn’t not do anything about it.

My only goal with my work is to help create a better society of dogs, where owners can enjoy their time together. Indoors or out. And it feels like the effects of Lockdown have and will continue to stick a right kibosh in that.

So, here’s what I’m doing…

The way in which I work consists of looking at the whole picture. Both dog, and owner, then working on them as a whole. You’re a team after all, and it’s no good solving one problem, if there’s another lingering in the mind cloud making you procrastinate, feel uneasy about progressing the work or worse, hiding away from the world forever.

And I see multiple, yet honest, mistakes from handlers that actually cause an increase in the problem behaviour, itself. Then as frustrations rise because the dog isn’t doing what you want it to do,, the blame gets shifted and you end up detesting having to work with them. Which I definitely don’t want, because it’s not long after that when thoughts of rehoming come into play.

You got your dog because you wanted to enjoy the outside world. Not hide away from it.
You love them so much when they’re doing what you want them to do, but when it goes tits up, they’re to blame for everything, right?

But when we take a closer look at things, it’s often small problems with the handler that need tweaking, where the pieces then start falling into place.

Ever tensed up on the lead when you’ve seen a distraction?
Ever avoided going to somewhere, for fears of it being too busy?
Have you been feeling like a failure, because you’ve got the dog with the labelled bad reputation, on the street?
Talked yourself out of trying something, just because it didn’t work last time, therefore it will never work again?

I know, I know. All of this negativity brings us down, and I do feel the pain you’re in with your dog, but that mindset gets us no-where, and I can promise you now, your dog will be picking up on all of it.

Which will likely make their behaviour worse.

So, are you ready to learn more about yourself as a handler, and avoid making the same mistakes I see people make, every single day?

Good, because on April 30th, 6pm I’m holding a free masterclass, designed to helping YOU develop your skills and start getting the same results as my EVO members.

You will learn the three biggest mistakes I see people making, that are truly killing their training progress.

As I say in my ‘3 Steps to Silence’ book, In order for the dogs behaviour to change, you must first change your own

We have all been dealt an unthinkable hand, and over the past 12 months each of us has been forced to adapt to an entirely new set of rules in our lives.

The good news is that you are not alone. The bad news is… the old strategies, tactics, and “think” will no longer serve you in our new normal. 
To thrive in this new climate, and overcome the problems behaviours you’re facing, you must be nimble and adopt new strategies to advance forward.

I’m super stoked for delivering this class, because it’s going to help a lot of people rethink their walking choices.

Click here to register. Don’t be just another statistic, any longer.

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