Day 18 Of Lockdown Filled The Dog With Helium

Day 18 of Lockdown Fills the Dog With Helium

On day 18 of lockdown, the helium was all gone. The dog was feeling pretty empty inside, but was able to feel a sense of belonging thanks to a warm meal and some company from his owner.

The human-dog bond is strongly related to social interactions, particularly when they are on walks together. This was thought to be important in fostering the bond and maintaining a good relationship between owner and dog, especially during lockdowns.

Despite the restrictions on exercise during the lockdown, many owners still walked their dogs, although for less frequently, yet longer, than they normally did prior to the lockdown. This was in particular true for those who lived alone or had household members heightened in vulnerability to COVID-19 (see Appendix B).

In contrast, owners reported observing new undesirable behaviours in their dog(s) during the lockdown. These included clingy and vocalising behaviours, and barking or other attention-seeking behaviour when left alone for short periods of time.

Some owners felt that a lack of exercise during lockdown may be contributing to these behaviours, while others suggested that the walk guidelines were restricting opportunities for dogs to interact with other dogs and their owners.

For the most part, owners enjoyed spending more time than usual with their dog(s), though they recognised that this may impact on their dog’s future ability to cope when left alone. They also valued the opportunity to walk their dog(s) as part of their permitted daily exercise, but they worried that the limitations on walks during lockdown were restricting opportunities for dogs to interact with their owners and other canines.

Owners of puppies and young dogs who were newly acquired during the lockdown were concerned that they might miss out on vital socialisation and thus develop behavioural problems later in life. They feared that their dogs would not learn necessary “life skills” and might become anxious or fearful in their adulthood.

A few owners were not aware that a lack of exercise during lockdown could be detrimental to their dogs’ wellbeing, and felt that dog welfare organisations needed to raise awareness of the importance of walking dogs under the lockdown guidelines. This could include providing a range of information about what was permissible during the lockdown and training programmes to teach dogs to cope with “alone time”.

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