During the UK lockdown, many people used their unexpected free time to welcome a new pet into their home, creating a puppy boom. However, the restrictions made training dogs challenging, which has led to a rise in behavioural problems.
As well as younger puppies, the change in routine has also likely impacted the behaviour of adult dogs. As well as exercise and social interaction suddenly becoming limited, the dogs were also gaining much more time with their owners than usual.
To identify which bad habits among dogs have worsened, Benchmark Kennels found the average monthly search volume for terms relevant to dog behaviour from July 2019 to 2020 and from July 2020 to June 2021.
The research revealed that the search volume for some of the terms had surged during this timeframe. This increase suggests that now restrictions have been lifted, more people are looking for advice to remedy their dog’s bad habits than in previous years.
So, what behavioural problems have dogs developed during lockdown, and how can you fix them?
The average search volume for 'dog aggression training' from July 2020 to June 2021 was 588 per month, a 93% surge from the previous year. There was also an 81% growth in the average monthly searches for 'dog aggression'.
Hostile behaviour, such as growling, baring teeth, and long and hard stares, needs addressing quickly with the help of a professional behaviourist. Otherwise, the aggression can worsen and lead to attacks against other dogs or people.
If you haven't socialised your dog correctly, they'll likely be afraid of any new experiences, sounds, people, or dogs, which can cause them to react defensively and aggressively. They may respond territorially to new guests in the house too.
A frustrated dog can also express signs of anger if they're left alone or restrained for too long. You shouldn't leave adult dogs alone for longer than four hours, but you can't leave puppies for more than 30 to 60 minutes.
The phrase 'dog obedience training' had an average monthly search volume of 756 from July 2020 to June 2021, an 83% rise from the previous year.
Obedience training ensures your dog responds to commands, so you can keep them safe and out of trouble. If your dog has become defiant, you'll likely need to begin the process again or try different methods.
If left unaddressed, disobedience can lead to a wide range of behavioural problems, including:
- Excessive barking
- Leash pulling
Working with a professional dog trainer is often the most successful way to teach pups obedience, but this wasn't an option for many owners through lockdown.
Although barking is a standard form of communication for dogs, it can become embarrassing and stressful if it occurs constantly and at inappropriate moments.
The research found that the average monthly search volume for 'how to stop dog barking' was 3,767 between July 2020 and June 2021, increasing by 1,209 since the previous year.
To determine the best solution to reduce barking to a manageable level, you'll need to identify the cause and patterns.
Your dog may be alerting you to new sights and sounds outside, demanding food and toys, or feeling over-excited. The excessive barking may also be out of loneliness, boredom, or separation anxiety if they're alone too often without enough exercise and mental stimulation.
On top of this, problem barking can indicate poor socialisation if it's a reaction to the presence of unfamiliar people and dogs.
It's normal for dogs to experience occasional anxiety, such as when loud noises occur unexpectedly or attending the vets. However, if your dog is commonly nervous, there's likely a problem that you need to address.
There was an average monthly search volume of 1,181 for 'nervous dog' from July 2020 to June 2021, growing by 18% from the previous year.
Lockdown ending likely had an impact on nervousness among dogs. If you were furloughed or working from home, allowing you to spend a lot of time with your dog, it likely came as a shock when your routine returned to normal.
Nervous dog behaviour can consist of:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Tail between the legs
- Loss of appetite
You can calm your dog's anxiety by taking them for more walks, equipping them with mentally stimulating toys, and avoiding punishing them. Also, try to re-build the pup's confidence by rewarding independent behaviour, teaching them new tricks and practising behaviour they already know.
As well as this, it's helpful to provide nervous dogs with a safe place, such as a crate or outdoor kennel, that they can retreat to of their own choosing when feeling overwhelmed and need alone time.
There are many reasons why a dog may bite, including feeling territorial, afraid, angry, or over-excited, but it's usually due to a lack of training. However, biting can lead to troubling situations. Under The Dangerous Dog Act, it's illegal for dogs to be 'out of control' and bite someone.
The research uncovered the search rate for 'dog bite' was already high, with an average of 3,058 per month. The volume increased by 17% over a year, reaching 3,608. Worryingly, the search volume for 'dog bite lawyer' also saw a 51% growth.
To prevent your dog from biting, undergo obedience training and keep them on a leash until you're confident they will respond to commands and stay calm.
Various dog behavioural problems appear to have worsened since lockdown, which is likely a consequence of the uptick of people getting dogs during a time without access to training classes and the opportunity to socialise puppies.
If you need assistance with re-training your dog, work with a professional dog behaviourist. Also, get your dog checked out by a veterinarian to rule out any medical causes.
Cheryl Sampson, Marketing Manager at Benchmark Kennels, said: “As dog training classes and private sessions were off-limit through lockdown, it’s no wonder bad habits have increased.
“Social distancing also made socialising puppies extremely difficult, which may have caused aggressive or nervous behaviour when around new people or animals.
“After adjusting to spending more time with their owners through lockdown, and then being apart again, some dogs may have developed separation anxiety too.
“It’s incredibly frustrating for owners who are trying their best to train their puppy but are struggling to achieve the intended results due to circumstances out of their control.
“You can fix many behavioural problems over time, but it’ll take dedication. There are several DIY methods owners can try if the poor habits are mild. If the dog is out of control and the problems are severe, it’ll be much more effective to work with a professional trainer.”
About Benchmark Kennels
Benchmark Kennels manufacture bespoke outdoor kennels to suit dogs of all breeds, shapes, and sizes. The kennels are built using various materials from wooden to WPC eco-thermal kennels with extra insulation.
The kennel retailers are trusted suppliers to the National Trust, Balmoral estate, the royal family of Abu Dhabi, Country estates, top dog breeders and pet owners nationwide.
You can order a kennel directly from our website or get in touch with us for further advice on the best kennel for your dog's needs.
Benchmark Kennels manufacture bespoke dog kennels to suit dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes. You can customise your outdoor kennel to be as luxurious or minimalist as required, built using various materials from wooden to WPC eco-thermal kennels with extra insulation. You can order a kennel directly from our website or get in touch with us for further advice on the best kennel for your dog's needs.