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Physical distancing's ruff end of the stick

Carmina Blewett
Indi sized
For young dogs like Indi, socialising with other animals and people is a challenge during the country's lockdown responses to Coronavirus  Ella Falkner

Lockdown measures are limiting both man and his best friend from face-to-face interactions, proving a challenge for dog owners nationwide.

Since Alert Level 4 implementation, physical human-to-human interactions beyond bubbles have been advised against. However, four-legged companions are not exempt to the standard, worrying some owners with puppy socialisation challenges.

Dog behaviourist and trainer Julie Donovan says exposure to the outside world and situations is critical between the age of eight and 16 weeks.

"If you've got a dog that hasn't been lucky enough to have a lot of work done in that critical period, they [will] generally lack confidence - they're an insecure dog, an unsure dog... the majority of aggression comes from a fear base."

Ella Falkner says for four-and-half-month-old golden retriever Indi walks to the local river are a frequent activity seeing animals and children, "wanting to meet them and play with them, but can't."



Puppies like 14-week-old Kobe are struggling to socialise during Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown measures in place Jeremy Hoani

For Jeremy Hoani and his young family, establishing positive social boundaries and confidence for 14-week-old Kobe is a priority. 

"It's important to us that he's not aggressive, so we want him to be friendly with people.

"The concern is if he becomes an adult dog and he's not well-socialised, it's a lot harder to adjust behaviours.''

Donovan says hope is not lost with temperamental older canines, however she urges the importance of owners to provide mental and physical care appropriate to their dogs' age. 

 For professional tips, tricks and guidance, visit @JulieDonovanCanineBehaviourist .