Updated: Apr 24
The Covid-19 pandemic has provided challenges for all of us. Many families have turned to the love and enjoyment that a dog can bring to their lives during these uncertain times. Online searches for "buy a puppy" quadrupled in the middle of March last year, before doubling again in early May. Prices have soared to match the demand. But how has lockdown affected our family dogs?
Strict public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the lives of our dogs throughout the nation. Research carried out by The Dogs Trust reported that 55 % of owners said their dog’s routine had changed, including having less walks as owners stuck to government guidance and being less likely to be allowed to run off-lead. Over a quarter of dog owners reported that their dog showed at least one new behaviour problem behaviour during lockdown.
“Our study presents just the tip of the iceberg, as it only includes injuries severe enough to require hospital admission.”
With children staying at home emergency paediatric department attendances have declined overall, however dog bite attendances have risen. They reached a peak in July 2020 where 1.3% of all attendances were due to dog bites. This was a threefold increase on predicted levels using data from previous years. By September 2020 attendance had returned to normal in line with children going back to school.
One study at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital showed that admissions peaked in July 2020 with 44 incidents. This was around 12 a week. This sad rise was echoed around the country. Dr John Tulloch, an epidemiologist at the University of Liverpool, said: “Despite sustained education and preventative campaigns across large parts of society, the issue of dog bites continues to grow and is a huge public health issue”.
Even prior to the National Lockdowns hospital admissions for dog bites had tripled in England in the last 20 years. Dr. Tulloch warned, “Our study presents just the tip of the iceberg, as it only includes injuries severe enough to require hospital admission.”
So, what can we do?
Learning to understand our dog’s communications and working with our children to promote safe dog/ child interactions is an essential part of having a happy family dog. Dogs and children must never be left without full, alert, adult supervision. Situations can change in the blink of an eye, and a dog bite cannot be reversed.
Easing out of lockdown will present a whole host of challenges for us and our dogs. With fewer people entering our homes and less interactions out and about, many dogs have missed out on important stages of their socialisation. Along with many people returning to work, this may put further pressure on our dogs emotionally.
As an IMDT Canine Behaviourist and mum of four with family dogs, dog and child safety is something that I am passionate about. The relationship between a dog and a child can be wonderful and a hugely beneficial part of childhood. It is so important to get things right. I have been a licensed Family Paws Educator since 2014. I specialise in dog and child relationships. From the moment you find out that you are expecting, right through childhood I am here to support you to have safe, relaxed family dog interactions.
Behaviour problems and issues between dogs and children are far easier to prevent than cure. The most common reason for dogs being surrendered to shelters is behavioural issues. I am keen to help families locally and nationally to buck this trend using early intervention.
Sessions can be held in person or online. Using a combination of theory and practical training I am here to support you every step of the way. All training is reward based, force free, and kind. Contact me at www.positivepets.org to see how I can help your family today.
Positive Pets Dog Training & Behaviour
Research carried out by the Dogs Trust research team from [04 May 2020] to [12 May 2020] of 6,004 respondents.