Are Pandemic Puppies A Canine Crisis Or A Happy Household?

Are Pandemic Puppies A Canine Crisis Or A Happy Household?
As the pandemic drags on, people’s desire for puppies continues to grow.
(Shutterstock)

At first, it was toilet paper and hand sanitizer. People stuck at home with time to bake bought up all the flour. Next came the terrifying shortages of hospital ventilators and ICU beds, and eventually vaccines.

Then came the dogs.

Yep. A dog shortage. Yet, they are everywhere. Parks are full of them. Shelters are empty. Adoption rates have risen 30 to 40 per cent and foster organizations cannot keep up with the demand.

Wait lists for breeders are years long and vets are booking appointments months in advance. In the United Kingdom, a torrent of dog-napping cases are being touted as the work of a “puppy mafia.” The always pervasive problem of puppy mills and scams are thriving as people pine for puppies.

Dogs are a huge part of my life. As an associate professor of anthrozoology, I attend yearly anthrozoology conferences which feature some of the best dog-minds in the world. Early in my career I did a dog-training apprenticeship, with Huckleberry, my Labrador puppy, when reward-based training was on the rise. I also teach a course on dogs and humans’ relationship with them. I even met my husband while walking my dog.

The rush for dogs

The frenzy makes sense. People who chose to not have a dog because they were away for long hours are suddenly able to since school and work now happen at home. And for many, this may be permanent.

It may actually be beneficial to work alongside your dog. Research shows increased productivity and work-life balance, areas colleagues and I are collecting data on to further explore. At the very least, many new owners now have the time bond with, and train, their new family member — they’ve found a crack of light in the pandemic wall.

But bringing a new pup into the house is not always a good idea, as appealing as it may be for those feeling trapped at home during lockdown.

Dogs offer a breath of fresh air, and are one of the few permissible excuses for people to escape the indoors. When lockdowns began, amusing stories surfaced of desperate people walking stuffed dogs, fake dogs and even spouses on leashes. Now, borrowed dogs and even rented dogs are a thing.

Sadly, though, most new puppies will not get walked enough, and the many unexpected issues that lead to behavioural problems will contribute to frustrated owners and relinquishment.

Dog ownership is a huge responsibility

Knowing a lot about dogs is stressful because I zero in on problems. I sometimes cannot help myself from telling strangers that their new unvaccinated puppies shouldn’t be in a dog-crowded park. I cringe at exasperated owners yanking on choke chains, or using other types of punishment and outdated training methods because their frustrated dogs just want to run and play.

There is already a rise in dog surrenders. This is due, in part, to impulse purchases of pandemic puppies. Not surprisingly, people are lonely.

But we’re not sure dogs can cure loneliness. Anthrozoologist Hal Herzog says “the evidence just is not there.”

Herzog’s skepticism is understandable, and he maintains that the results are not conclusive. “Contrary to the claims of the pet products industry,” he says, “the vast majority of studies indicate that pet owners are no less lonely” than non-owners.

Sadly, most new pandemic puppies will not get walked enough.Sadly, most new pandemic puppies will not get walked enough. (Shutterstock)

Lack of socialization

A major concern among canine researchers is that pandemic puppies are not being socialized, which is vital to the future behaviour and emotional well-being of dogs. Typically, very few owners actually formally enrol in training or puppy classes, which are ideal for developing socializing skills. Presumably, lockdown would worsen this situation for puppies.

James Serpell agrees that this could create “a bit of an epidemic.” Serpell directs the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ) project at the University of Pennsylvania. C-BARQ is an online survey tool that provides owners with an evaluation of their dogs’ temperament and behaviour. So far, it has yielded standardized information about the behavioural norms of purebreds and mixed-breeds for more than 60,000 companion dogs.

While getting a puppy is a rational impulse, Serpell points out several potential problems for unsocialized puppies:

  1. Some dogs may become fearful of new experiences, leading to increased aggression toward both unfamiliar dogs and people.

  2. Dogs who are not used to being alone may develop separation anxiety, leading to destructive behaviour, including peeing and pooping inside the home.

  3. And, of course, relinquishment. Today’s puppies could become tomorrow’s shelter dogs.

Serpell also points to an ironic paradox: “Any puppy acquired during the pandemic, if the owners were behaving responsibly, would not be properly socialized.” In other words, people who respect the social order may raise dogs who do not.

A society of pet lovers

But what about the “pet effect,” the theory that pets are good for us? After all, research findings show that the presence of dogs lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and improves emotional well-being.

Herzog has repeatedly raised red flags about this, suggesting a bias in anthrozoological research. This concern is shared by Dog Sense author John Bradshaw, who points out that although some studies do show positive health effects, the same number conclude “that pets have no or even a slight impact on health.”

But does science really matter?

After all, we are a society of pet lovers, with almost 60 per cent of Canadian households having a resident dog or cat. It’s often a simple pleasure to share the constant company of a nonjudgmental companion offering unconditional love. I have been thankful that the pandemic has given me more time with Grasshopper, my 13-year-old Labrador (who is perfectly behaved, of course).

Arguably, this article reflects the downside of my academic life and preoccupation with research, data, facts and theories about dog ownership. Sometimes, a dog is just a dog.

And in this case, I think it’s best to just let sleeping dogs lie.The Conversation

About The Author

Beth Daly, Associate Professor of Anthrozoology, University of Windsor

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

You May Also Like

INNERSELF VOICES

How To Ensure That "Luck" Is On Your Side
How To Ensure That "Luck" Is On Your Side
by Marie T. Russell
"He's so lucky! She always wins! I'm just not lucky!" Do these statements sound familiar? Have they…
face of woman floating in water
How To Develop Courage and Move Out of Your Comfort Zone
by Peter Ruppert
Courage is not about being fearless in the face of a scary situation. It is the willingness to move…
chamomile plants in bloom
Horoscope Current Week: July 26 - August 1, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want.
Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want
by Amy Fish
You need to have the courage to live life. This includes learn­ing to ask for what you need or…
man passed out on a table with an empty bottle of alcohol with child looking on
Can LSD Cure the 'Spiritual Disease' of Alcoholism?
by Thomas Hatsis
Beginning in the late 1950s, five hospitals (in the province of Saskatchewan in Canada) offered a…
pregnant woman sitting with her hands on her belly
Essential Tips for the Journey: Release Fear and Take Care of Yourself
by Bailey Gaddis
Suppressing fear-induced emotions infuses life into them, often causing a manifestation of…
person radiating love and light from their heart out into the universe
Being A Light unto this World: Healing the World by Being Present
by William Yang
A bodhisattva brings healing into this world not out of fear of sickness and death, but out of…
full moon over a hot air balloon
Fear Unceasing or Life Abundant? Blue Moon Cycle in Aquarius
by Sarah Varcas
The period beginning with this first full moon (24 July 2021) and ending with the blue moon (22…

Marie T. Russell's Daily Inspiration

MOST READ

hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil image of children
Death Denial: Is No News Good News?
by Margaret Coberly, Ph.D., R.N.
Most people are so strongly habituated to death denial that when death appears they are caught…
Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want.
Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want
by Amy Fish
You need to have the courage to live life. This includes learn­ing to ask for what you need or…
Writing letters by hand is the best way to learn to read
Writing letters by hand is the best way to learn to read
by Jill Rosen, Johns Hopkins University
Handwriting helps people learn reading skills surprisingly faster and significantly better than…
spraying for mosquito 07 20
This new pesticide-free clothing prevents 100% of mosquito bites
by Laura Oleniacz, NC State
New insecticide-free, mosquito-resistant clothing is made from materials researchers have confirmed…
test your creativity
Here's how to test your creativity potential
by Frederique Mazerolle, McGill University
A simple exercise of naming unrelated words and then measuring the semantic distance between them…
holding up a mask of a man's face
Is There a Right Way of Interpreting Dreams? (Video)
by Serge Kahili King
When you give others the authority to interpret your dreams, you are buying in to their beliefs,…
Digital Distraction and Depression: The 21st Century Scourges
Digital Distraction and Depression: The 21st Century Scourges
by Amit Goswami, Ph.D.
We now have ever-expanding ways to distract and consume attention through the new digital opiate of…
image of the planet Jupiter on the skyline of a rocky ocean shore
Is Jupiter a Planet of Hope or a Planet of Discontent?
by Steven Forrest and Jeffrey Wolf Green
In the American dream as it's currently dished up, we try to do two things: make money and lose…

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.