Lockdown Puppies Exhibit Alarming Rates of Separation Anxiety and Aggression, Says Royal Veterinary College Study

Lockdown Puppy Woes: RVC Research Uncovers High Rates of Behavioral Issues

A recent study conducted by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) sheds light on concerning trends related to puppies acquired during the lockdown.

The research indicates that these dogs exhibit elevated rates of separation anxiety and aggression towards other dogs.

Study Overview and Findings

The RVC study, funded by the Battersea rescue charity, surveyed 1,007 respondents who acquired a dog during the initial nine months of the pandemic.

The findings revealed that, on average, owners reported their dogs having five behavioral problems, with one in five owners noting eight or more issues.

Common problems included pulling on the lead (67%), jumping up at people (57%), and not coming back when called (52%).

Individual Narratives: A Glimpse into the Challenges

Individual stories from dog owners highlighted the challenges faced during lockdown.

Denise Mariner-Chappell, who got her Labrador Ted in 2020, shared her struggles in training and socializing him.

The issues led to verbal abuse from other dog owners, reflecting the added stressors faced by those acquiring puppies during the pandemic.

Rise in Dog Ownership and “Pet Regret”

The study follows a significant increase in the UK’s dog population, reaching an estimated 11 million.

However, not all owners were prepared for the responsibility, resulting in a surge of “pet regret” as rescue centers faced an influx of unwanted animals.

The cost of dog ownership also rose, contributing to what the Dogs Trust termed “dogflation.”

Battersea’s Response and Concerns

Battersea’s senior animal behavior manager, Robert Bays, expressed deep concern over the study’s findings.

The charity noted a significant increase in dogs exhibiting issues such as separation anxiety.

Bays emphasized the importance of positive training and support, as untreated problems can escalate into serious issues.

Critical Age for Behavior Intervention

The RVC study identified that puppies exhibiting problem behaviors at the age of 21 months face an increased risk of being rehomed or euthanized.

The research underscores the pivotal role of early intervention in shaping a dog’s long-term emotional health.

Training Methods and Risks

While the study advocates for attending puppy classes and using positive training techniques, it also highlighted a concerning trend.

Four in five participants reported using aversive training methods, such as moving the dog or shouting.

The study warns that punishment-based training can lead to anxiety and further problem behaviors, emphasizing the need for effective guidance to owners.

Concerns Over Dog-Related Injuries

The study’s release comes in the wake of a notable increase in cases where out-of-control dogs caused injuries, rising by over a third between 2018 and 2022.

Experts emphasize that understanding the risk factors for problem behavior is crucial in providing effective advice to owners.

Conclusion: A Call for Responsible Dog Ownership

In conclusion, the RVC study serves as a call for responsible dog ownership, recognizing the challenges faced by those acquiring puppies during the pandemic.

The findings underscore the need for education, support, and positive training methods to ensure the well-being of both dogs and owners.

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