Lockdown certainly fuelled our desires for pets. Being stuck indoors is made significantly better with a furry friend to lower our stress levels and give us something to care for day-to-day. The surge in people welcoming dogs into their families has however been met with criticism, with many being given to animal shelters when owners realise that they can’t care for them. While it is positive that more families are seeking pets and keeping them, there are those that are rejected and end up in an animal shelter, where it might be harder for them to be rehomed due to a higher demand for puppies.
Many owners believed they were prepared to be a dog parent but weren’t actually aware of the responsibilities having a dog brings.
Here, we explore the issues dog owners have had, so you can be informed and decide whether you have the resources and time to buy or adopt a dog as well as answer any questions to may have about your own. After all, giving up a dog can be emotionally, so these considerations shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Barking and loneliness
We looked at Google search data from January 2020 to December 2020 to find out what dog owners were searching for the most online.
The searches with the highest average monthly search volume were “dog barking”, “dog separation anxiety”, “dog noise”, “dog anxiety”, and “stop dog barking” with 27,100, 6,600, 5,400, 4,400, and 4,400 searches respectively.
All dogs bark, this is normal – when dogs bark, it can be their way of communicating with us. They might be trying to tell us that they’re hungry or thirsty, are feeling lonely, or need to go to the toilet. Understanding the different types of dog barks will let us know whether our dog is being a nuisance or needs something in particular. If your dog is barking excessively, the first step is understanding why.
- Prolonged, non-stop barking, with intervals in between can signal loneliness and feeling unhappy
- One single yelp or a high-pitched bark can signal unexpected pain
- A series of yelps or high-pitched barks can signal fear or pain
If you’re getting reports from neighbours that your dog is barking a lot when you’re out, this is a sign of separation anxiety. They will also pace, act out repetitive behaviour, destroy things in the house, and will go to the toilet in the house. However, you don’t see this because it occurs when you’re out. To find out if your dog has separation anxiety, you could set up a camera to monitor your dog’s behaviour.
If your dog displays these symptoms, it’s a sign that they’re struggling being left alone so much, so you need to avoid leaving them alone so frequently and so long.
According to Google search data, “anal glands in dogs” had 14,800 average monthly searches. In dogs, the anal glands sit inside the bottom, and are used to release a liquid to mark territory. This liquid smells unique to other cats and dogs. Anal glands that are healthy will be empties naturally when a dog poos, however can become blocked.
Like people, dogs can become obese if they aren’t given a healthy and nutritious diet or frequent daily exercise. Obesity can impact the functioning of anal glands, preventing them from emptying properly. Although it isn’t life threatening, it can be painful, and if untreated can result in costly surgical repair. To help dogs with anal gland problems, exercise and weight loss are essential.
If you’re struggling to find the time to walk your dog, you should look into seeking help from a dog walker. Don’t feel anxious about leaving your pet with a stranger, dog walkers often have a business protected by insurance for dog walkers, so they provide top care for your dog.
Aggressive and negative behaviour
Searches for “dog biting”, “dog behaviour”, and “dog aggression” had 6,600, 5,400, and 2,900 average monthly searches, respectively.
If you suspect that your dog is acting aggressively and is exhibiting bad behaviour, this will need attending to immediately to keep others safe.
Most mouthing, which is light biting without applying pressure, is expected in dogs, but if a dog is biting and nipping, this can indicate fear, frustration, or problems with aggression. If your dog is being aggressive, you will notice that their body is stiff with a wrinkled muzzle and exposed teeth. Aggressive behaviour to look out for is:
- Standing stiff
- Exposing teeth
- Snarling (growling while exposing teeth)
- A guttural bark
- Lunging or charging at people
- Snapping or nipping
- Biting and bruising or puncturing skin
- Repeated, rapid bites
Having an aggressive dog may be a scary concept, but it can be remedied. You need professional help from someone qualified – start by speaking to your vet. They will guide you in the right direction. Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) registered professionals can identify issues with your dog and create a plan to teach them good behaviour.