Pandemic Puppies, Panicked Pet Parents and how not to burst your bubble!
In recent weeks our community has been on alert once again for Covid-19 infections within our shores. Being unable to travel as easily across the world as we once could has changed the way we are living.
Last year saw pet dog numbers increase by 25% compared to 5 years ago, when life seemed so much more simplified than it does today.
We now have a generation of dogs that have grown up in this new world that have had a much different experience as puppies than they would have previously. These puppies have been nick-named 'Pandemic Puppies'. Some haven't been socialised well with other people and dogs, which can result in them being fearful in new situations. And this can lead to all sorts of problems. I think most of us get a dog with the idea that they will be our companion. We hold the idealistic view that our dogs will come on holidays with us, go camping and come with us to visit friends. But if they have missed out on those experiences as a young pup, when they come across totally new objects like new people, dogs or other animals, they may react in a way that we find unacceptable. It is very important that when you do introduce them to something new that they have a positive experience. Always take your time, watch your dog's body language, use treats or a special toy to help them have that positive experience that we wish them to have. If your dog is showing signs of fear, stress or anxiety take them out of the situation. If you are unsure about how to read your dog's body language the book 'Doggie Language by Lili Chin' is a great reference which I am sure you would find helpful.
Our dog's are very good at reading our body language, it is a very special bond and amazing to watch. Our two species have evolved together and in this process our dogs have become experts at reading how we are feeling.
They react to how we are feeling, for instance if you come home to find your loyal friend has broken into the rubbish bin and you react by yelling and pointing and saying in a cross voice 'who made this mess?' you will notice your dog's head lower, tuck their tail in and likely turn away from you. They may move slowly and will avoid making eye contact. This is not your dog showing guilt for ripping into the rubbish, rather your dog is showing you non-threatening behaviour to help de-escalate the situation. In this situation you are much better off to clean up the mess, and do a better job of securing your rubbish in the future so he cannot perform this behaviour again!
If you have a pandemic puppy, take socialisation and new experiences slowly, reward to help associate the new stimulus with something positive.
Learn how to read your dog's body language so you can act to remove them from the situation if needed.
Keep calm! Remember they are experts at reading how we are feeling so if you are feeling nervous about something it is likely they will pick up on this and be on alert too!
If you need any help, please get in touch.