File picture: AP
File picture: AP

How the lockdown has affected your pets

By Karishma Dipa Time of article published Oct 17, 2020

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Johannesburg – While the Covid-19 lockdown has left millions of people anxious, stressed and uncertain about their futures, pets have also taken significant strain during these unprecedented times.

There has been widespread anecdotal evidence across social media platforms to suggest that pets are also struggling to adjust with the new reality imposed by the arrival of the novel coronavirus.

Their owners, many of whom have returned to their offices under relaxed lockdown regulations, are now facing another challenge of placating their unruly furry friends who have grown accustomed to their homes being full for up to six months.

A Joburg south family this month had to be creative in their pet care in order to prevent their 18 month old Italian Greyhound Patrice from driving their neighbours crazy from his continuous barking.

Jarryd Da Silva and his fiancee Tracy who returned to work under level one of the country’s lockdown, also have to spend their after hours trying to console their dog who spends hours weeping when they return home from the office.

“My wife and I were working from home from March up until the end of September and for the first time since we got Patrice, he spent every single day with us.”

“Even when we were busy with work at home, he was so happy to have us there and would relax in the garden until it was time for his walk in the evenings,” Da Silva told The Saturday Star this week.

“But we had no choice but to return to the office and we didn't think he would be this unhappy about it because before the coronavirus he was used to being alone at home while we were at work.”

But when the Da Silva’s left their house for work each day, they would return to complaints from their neighbours and their complex’s security about Patrice’s incessant barking.

“We thought we would give him a few days to get used to being alone but the complaints have not stopped.”

“Even when we get home, we have to spend hours trying to console him and my wife and I have even noticed that he has started to become unnecessarily aggressive.”

The Da Silva’s are not alone in their plight. A simple scroll through social media suggests that pet unrest is currently rife.

Award-winning blogger and founder of ‘The Good Guys’ publication Brent Lindeque also recently took to Twitter to tell his thousands of followers how his dogs “k****d him out” after leaving them home alone.

“Just got home after spending the entire day out and about, and properly just got kakked out by our pups,” he posted on the social media site.

“First time in almost 200 days that we left them alone. Never heard them so vocal before. Lockdown has impacted more than just humans. What a sober realisation.”

While this phenomenon is leaving pet owners frustrated, Christine Van Der Westhuizen from the SA Dog Training College & Kennels (SADTC) explained that this is a normal animal reaction under these unique circumstances.

“We are dealing with numerous problem dogs, especially aggression due to the lockdown.” She explained that while this could be down to pets feeling anxious, stressed or bored, they could also be acting irrationally out of loneliness.

“If there is a good bond between owner and dog, it could have a negative effect as the dog does not have the owner's attention all the time, so the dog could pine for that attention from the owner.”

“Physically they don’t have the amount of time they had during lockdown, to have play for example.”

While Van Der Westhuizen understands the pet and their owners' dilemma, she believes that it can be overcome with a few simple acts.

“Feed your dog before leaving the house and leave toys and treats for them to enjoy when you are not there.”

“Also, don’t make a fuss of the dog when they leave home and make sure the dog cannot escape the property as they may go searching for the owner.”

Meanwhile, the Tears Animal Rescue also stressed the importance of leaving the right snacks and toys to keep pets occupied while their owners are not at home.

“Invest in food-dispensing toys and long-lasting treats and chew toys, which will keep your dog busy and occupied while you are not at home,” Tears Animal Care and Media Manager Luke Kruyt told IOL.

He added that pets should also be left with a comfortable bed to rest on and that owners should consider leaving the radio on as some sound is better that dead silence.

But Kruyt warned that pets should learn to adjust to their owners not being at home for the long term.

“Start getting your dog used to you not being around by practising leaving home for short periods of time, and gradually increase the length of time spent away from home.”

“Consult with a registered animal behaviourist for more advice in dealing with separation anxiety.”

The Saturday Star

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