The term Covid Dog is becoming a common term used to excuse a dogs behaviour around the world, but should it be?
If your dog was born in the last two years, there is a very good chance he or she did not get a lot of exposure when they were young.
They could be considered a “Covid Dog”.
I mean it was illegal to get within 1.5m of a person and in some states and times people were not allowed out of their homes for an extended period of time.
So, whilst you may get away with calling that an excuse, you shouldn’t.
Your dog not getting enough exposure and social activity with people and other dogs can cause some problems with your dog’s behaviour, but rather than call it an excuse, call it a reason.
An excuse is sort of a way of explaining to why your dog is this way and lends itself to people just accepting it.
We see the same when people excuse their dog’s behaviour because he or she is a “rescue”.
These may be genuine reasons for your dog’s anti-social behaviour but they are not an excuse.
Covid has more or less passed us now and you absolutely can and should begin to work on your dog’s behaviour now to help your dog feel more comfortable around people and dogs he or she is unfamiliar with.
What we are seeing a LOT of.
First let me try and and explain what we are seeing a lot of at K9Pro, why and what we are doing to help.
Remember, we (the dog owning people of Australia) have never seen this situation before, and it is a world wide situation. It was common that some people did not socialise their dogs, some not enough, but this is a new level.
Even older dogs that were not entirely comfortable before COVID had a rapid downturn in the exposure they were getting, so those dogs too are now on edge.
Many more dogs…
During COVID, many Australian’s were left isolated from friends, family and colleagues, and they turned to dogs.
So many people added a dog in their life to fill that gap.
Before COVID, certainly people added a dog to their lives for many reasons, including a best friend, but COVID saw MANY people get a dog to be their ONLY friend.
Symptoms your dog may be experiencing
We are seeing a lot more dogs with separation issues, separation anxiety, dependencies and other problems that arose due to the dog coming to the home, or being in a home with almost exclusive access to their human.
This can cause the dog to become worried, frightened, frustrated and or agitated and this may see behaviours such as barking, howling, whining, destruction, escaping etc.
We are seeing dogs that once they leave the home, are reserved, nervous, reactive, flighty, skittish, and displaying signs of aggression to make people and or dogs give them space.
Finally, as a strange side effect to spending time in the home with a person, a person who has the dog as their only friend, we are seeing many more dogs that are resource guarding food, furniture, clothing, space and at times disciplining the owner when the owner does something the dog does not allow.
So, we can find them overconfident, bossy and policing owners in the home, and under confident, fearful and nervous outside the home.
This can be a hard barometer to read for dog owners and trainers.
What can you do?
As we may be talking about many breeds and temperaments here, specific advice is not available, and in such a serious situation, please avoid “internet research”.
But here are five things to do right away.
1. Get professional Help.
Now is the time to get someone involved that has solid experience in these behaviours and can demonstrate evidence of past success.
You will not be given unlimited chances to modify the way this dog perceives your attention, presence, and position in their world.
Experience counts here…
2. Crate Training
If your dog is not crate trained already, now is the time. Use the crate training program provided by the professional you are working with.
This will set the crate as a safe, good and secure place your dog can use when they feel the need.
This will transition to sleeping in the crate and popping into the crate for a nap through the day, allowing your dog to spend some time without you, happily.
3. Avoid behaviour rehearsal
When you do what ever it is you do that triggers your dog’s undesirable behaviours, somewhere in there will be reinforcement.
Therefore, the more your dog practices these behaviours, the harder they are to change.
Try boarding your dog for a couple of nights, I am not talking about the absolute nervous wreck, worst effected dogs out there, but those dogs that have come ability to regulate their emotions.
Sometimes a kennel stay for 2 nights, in a kennel that understands dog behaviour, can help your dog realise that you are coming back.
This one is to be discussed with the professional you’re working with and see if they feel it is a good fit for your dog.
With some dogs, it may not be.
5. Don’t make emotional decisions
A dog that has developed a sense of entitlement over your time, possessions and behaviour and is very badly behaved outside can be a very big emotional drain.
We find people in these situations can make emotional decisions they later regret.
Please don’t rush into medicating your dog, attempting to rehome or euthanise your dog, we provide solutions to a very high percentage of people in crisis.
If you are at the end of your tether, give us a call on 02 45 789 789 or send an email if you would prefer to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may be able to offer some more specific solutions for your dog.