Dogs’ behaviour impacted by Covid-19 restrictions

FRUSTRATED: Dog behavioural expert Nicole Cusiel says some dogs have been acting out of character...
FRUSTRATED: Dog behavioural expert Nicole Cusiel says some dogs have been acting out of character throughout he Covid-19 pandemic. ​
A Canterbury dog behavioural expert says some canines may be frustrated and acting out of character due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

Nicole Cusiel, who owns pet care and behavioural service Head to Tail, said she has received calls from people saying their dogs are displaying mannerisms that they wouldn’t usually.

“Because their dogs, potentially that were off-lead before, have spent more time
on-lead and not getting that proper off-lead run or that socialisation with other dogs, they’re sort of acting up a little bit in multiple different ways as well,” she said.

Ms Cusiel said this is also the case for one of her dogs, a huntaway border collie cross named Leo.

“Obviously, all dogs are on leads at the moment, so when we’re out walking he [Leo] is getting very frustrated and little things that he wasn’t worried about before just tend to be worrying him now.

“There tends to be a bit more of a reaction from him just because you can see this built-up frustration, this tension,” Ms Cusiel said.

One of the main key reasons some dogs may be acting differently, is the routines for many of them have changed as a result of their owners being home more often throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Cusiel’s advice is to ease dogs back into the routine they will be in once their owners are back at work.

She said this may involve reducing the number of times they are walked a day if this has been more than usual recently.

The SPCA has also given advice on preparing pets for when life returns to normal, saying it is also important to make sure companion animals get some alone time.

“We suggest taking some walks without the dog, leaving them at home alone. If you have more than one dog, it may also be a good idea to occasionally walk them separately so that they are comfortable being apart,” a spokesperson said.

• HAVE YOUR SAY: Has your dog been behaving differently. Tell us your story in 200 words or less. Email

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