Is your puppy showing Covid crisis anxiety?

Puppies are feeling anxious during the Covid pandemic

Puppies are feeling anxious during the Covid pandemic - Credit: Holly Mayhew

A dog trainer has described how the Covid-19 crisis had impacted on the lives of man's four-legged friends.

Holley Mayhew, of Ruff Dog Training and Welfare on the east coast, specialises in training puppies and says dogs are feeling more anxious as they are missing out on social interactions, such as meeting other pooches and exploring new places.

Holley Mayhew is dog trainer who specialises in training puppies

Holley Mayhew is a dog trainer who specialises in training puppies - Credit: Holley Mayhew

Miss Mayhew, who lives in Somerton and covers the Great Yarmouth area, says a lack of opportunities to go out has led to many dogs showing anxiety.

She said: "Anxiety is the big buzzword that we noticed a lot.

"Fearful and and reactive behaviours are getting developed because dogs are lacking access to socialisation opportunities."

"It might mean they can't go to certain places at certain times.

"A puppy has what we call a critical window of socialising. So if you dog misses that window it does not mean your dog has failed at socialising, it is more likely to pick up fearful anxiety tendencies.

Most Read

"A puppy could come out the developmental side a little bit more fearful, anxious and worried about things like meeting new people, getting in the car, meeting other dogs and going to the vets."

Miss Mayhew says that like people, dogs can express their anxieties and fears internally or externally, by appearing aggressive or withdrawn.

She said: "Socialisation is creating purposeful, positive experiences for your puppy, to prepare them for life in the human world.

Holley Mayhew runs Ruff Dog Training

Holley Mayhew runs Ruff Dog Training and Welfare - Credit: Holley Mayhew

"For the first few months of their lives, puppies go through a developmental phase known as the critical socialisation window.

"During this period, puppies are learning about the world around them, and are usually curious and resilient.

"What happens to your puppy during this most important stage of development will have a direct and long lasting impact on their behavioural wellness as an adult.

"Under-socialised puppies will almost always develop some kind of behavioural problem, like poor impulse control, resource guarding, anxiety, or even aggression.”

Miss Mayhew, who also trains adult dogs, is waiting to see if she has won the best dog related business category in the Animal Star Awards, due to be announced in the spring.

Top tips for training your puppy

Don’t leave your puppy to cry. Leaving a puppy to cry causes panic and can lead to severe separation anxiety, copraphagia and destructive behaviour.

Try to limit the opportunities your puppy has to toilet in undesirable locations. This is best done with crate training.

When your puppy is not in their crate, you should be watching them actively for signs that they are about to toilet, like sniffing and circling.

Reward your puppy for toileting in the right place. Do not give your puppy access to the whole house until they are toilet trained and supervised.

Teach your puppy that mouthing or nipping a person’s skin or clothes stops play and attention immediately. When your puppy nips, get up and walk out of the room for a short time then come back in and resume play and attention. Avoid telling your puppy off. Provide appropriate items your puppy can put teeth onto such as a Yak bar or an Antler.

For a free socialisation checklist to help re-socialise your puppy, e-mail Holley@ruff-dogs.co.uk with the subject ‘CHECKLIST’