Millions of people around the world have adopted a pet during the health crisis, in order to break away from loneliness and obtain comfort. Many have set their sights on puppies, known to be very playful. But these little four-legged companions tend to exhibit behavioral problems since the end of the pandemic.
Researchers from the Royal Veterinary College in London made the discovery after following a cohort of puppies in the United Kingdom. The latter were less than sixteen weeks old when they were purchased from British breeders in 2020. Academics analyzed their behavior until they reached 21 months, a pivotal age at which owners often make the decision to separate them from their dog – or worse, euthanize them – if they have bad habits.
It turns out that almost all of the dog owners surveyed for the purposes of this study say that their furball presents at least one behavioral disorder. In the majority of cases, they complain that their pet pulls on its leash to lead its owner where it wants, that it jumps on people who cross its path, and that it does not come at a walk when we ‘calls.
A dog’s behavior is closely linked to the way his owner behaves towards him and the place he gives him in his daily life. This is why training is key to instilling good habits and ensuring their well-being. However, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College of London have found that dog owners do not always know how to train their pooch well.
The importance of training
The overwhelming majority of those surveyed said they had already used aversive training methods. Among them are the use of physical force to obtain obedience (44%), shouting and reprimands (41%) or the use of accessories that are restrictive for the animal. While these strategies can encourage the dog to listen to his owner, they are often not recommended because they do not motivate him to change his behavior in the long term.
Interestingly, dog owners were less likely to have used aversive techniques if they had taken online training classes with their little companion during the pandemic. Furthermore, a third of respondents did not expect to have so much difficulty raising their dog. This is certainly due to the fact that periods of confinement and health restrictions have prevented them from seeking help from a dog trainer or behaviorist.
For Dr Rowena Packer, co-author of the study, it is important that less experienced dog owners consult a professional if they notice that their dog has behavioral problems. “Problem behaviors are extremely common among pandemic puppies and, in many cases, are potentially exacerbated by owners who use punishment-based training techniques (…). One of the key takeaways from our study is that attending puppy training classes is essential for owners to learn the best training techniques available” she said in a statement.