Covid restrictions in France do not only affect people – pets are feeling the impact of lockdowns and curfew measures too.
Dogs normally used to the hustle and bustle of city life will have had a different experience in the past year.
Dog trainer Céline Forêt told news source FranceInfo: “There are far fewer people outside, less movement, and people are afraid to let their dogs meet each other because we have to maintain distance. That creates problems for dogs.”
Ms Forêt said this can especially affect puppies who, with less opportunity to socialise, risk becoming more fearful and aggressive in the future.
She advises that owners continue to take their pets on walks as often as they can, ideally with other dogs. Young dogs also need to be exposed to a variety of things so that they can get used to them.
Ms Forêt says it is a good idea to try taking them for walks in noisy environments with a lot of movement, as well as the countryside so they can encounter animals such as cows and sheep if possible.
Owners changing routines affect dogs
A change in normal social routines in the home can also cause problems. Many owners have been spending more time with their dogs than usual while at home, then breaking this routine when they return to the workplace or resume social activities.
Vet Yannick Perennes told FranceInfo this can cause dogs to develop “hyper attachment” to their owners and – consequently - separation anxiety.
“If your dog has physically spent a lot of time with you in a seemingly permanent way, that can create an excessive attachment,” he said.
Separation can then lead dogs to unwanted behaviours such as barking, destruction and uncleanliness. He advises owners to lay down rules as soon as possible – ideally within the first month of an animal’s life.
And canine weight gain during the health pandemic is also an issue as dogs have been going out less while their owners have been restricted to the home.
One owner told FranceInfo her small dog had put on 800g since the start of the health crisis. “He wants to eat more because he’s going out less. He is having a few more treats, but he exerts himself less as well,” she said.
Again, regular walks are a good solution.