Canine Behavioural Experts have issued a warning to dog owners that time spent under lockdown due to the current Covid-19 restrictions can not only be stressful and frustrating for us but can be equally affecting for dogs as well. The result being that the confusing circumstances can prompt dogs to show aggressive territorial behaviour, particularly around children.
As reported in The Irish Times Cork County chief veterinary officer Edmond O’Sullivan has said it is important that pet owners should be aware that dogs are undergoing a significant and sudden adjustment.
“With the current restrictions in place, dogs are experiencing increased interaction with adults, teens and young children at home. This, combined with a curtailment on their normal exercise routine, can lead to confused behavioural cues and signals for the dog and can be dangerous in terms of canine innate dominance and territorial aggressive behaviour. Children in particular can provoke unpredictable reactions in dogs.”
It is recommended that dog owners should be mindful of the disturbance to their pet’s daily routine and be particualrly aware of any changes in their behaviour. Use the time to consider their dog's general health. If dog owners have any concerns about a dog’s behaviour they should talk to a vet.
Some canine experts quoted in the article take the view that the potential for aggressive behaviour is generally a pre-existing issue and not one that results specifically from a change in environment. They note that dogs respond to human body language which has increased due to the amount of time people are spending at home. This raises the potential for confusion and incidents that might escalate to aggression when a dog’s initial reaction goes unnoticed.
Patrick Holmes, a vet and head of the Veterinary Officers Association in Ireland (VOA), is of the opinion that if you have a dog that has a temper problem this would have manifested itself long before this lockdown. He also felt that the lockdown may have a positive impact as if people are walking their dogs more often at the moment the dog that may have been frustrated before because they didn’t get the exercise may be calmer.
For some the concern is that problems will begin to manifest itself once the lockdown restrictions are lifted as for a dog use to having its owner at home all day separation anxiety and resulting destructive behaviour can develop.
Dog Bite Solicitor and specialist dog claims compensation expert James McNally says :
"Canine experts will tell you that the warning signs that a dog is unhappy or upset are there to be seen. It is vitally important that dog owners can spot these signs and also important that they don't put their dogs in a situation where they might react in an agressive manner. If young children are in the house they should be taught how to act around dogs. There are lots of online guides available such as this one from the RSPCA https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/company/children which offer invaluable advice."
Of particular concern to James at the moment is the increased risk being faced by delivery drivers.
"Understandably given the lockdown and risks posed by Covid-19 more and more people are choosing home delivery for their shopping. Quite often these may be customers who have never had home delivery before and so never stopped to consider the risks their dogs might pose to visiting delivery drivers. Dog owners need to consider this very carefully as if they don't take necessary steps like installing a letter box cage they could be leaving themselves open to a Personal Injury claim. The impact that a dog bite can have on a delivery driver at this time can be absolutely devastating. Not only are the majority self employed and so would be looking at a significant loss of earnings while they recover but they will also have to face the trauma of having to attend hospital or their GP for treatment when really they should be doing all they can to avoid high risk environments like this. Every dog bite claim we deal with is preventable. Dog owners just need to take proper care and responsibility."
If you have suffered a dog bite or attack and want more information on whether or not you can make a claim on a No Win No Fee basis then please don't hesitate to contact our specialist dog bite lawyers. Email [email protected] or phone 0808 1391601.