Dog trainer’s fears for Norfolk puppy’s Covid anxiety

06:50 8 January 2022

A dog trainer has described how the Covid-19 crisis has impacted the lives of the man’s four-legged friends.

Holley Mayhew, of Ruff Dog Training and Welfare on the East Coast, specializes in puppy training and says dogs feel more anxious because they lack social interactions, like meeting other pooches and exploring new places.

Holley Mayhew is a dog trainer who specializes in training puppies
– Credit: Holley Mayhew

Miss Mayhew, who lives in Somerton and covers the Great Yarmouth area, says the lack of opportunities to go outside has led many dogs to show anxiety.

She said: “Anxiety is the big buzzword that we’ve noticed a lot.

“Fearful and reactive behaviors develop because dogs do not have access to socialization opportunities.”

“That could mean they can’t go to certain places at certain times.

“A puppy has what we call a critical socialization window. So if your dog misses this window, it doesn’t mean your dog has failed to socialize, he’s more likely to develop fearful anxiety tendencies.

“A puppy might come out on the developmental side a bit more fearful, anxious and worried about things like meeting new people, getting in the car, meeting other dogs and going to the vet.”

Miss Mayhew says that, like people, dogs can express their anxieties and fears internally or externally, by appearing aggressive or withdrawn.

She said: “Socialization is about creating useful and positive experiences for your pup to prepare him for life in the human world.

Holley Mayhew runs Ruff Dog Training

Holley Mayhew runs Ruff Dog Training and Welfare
– Credit: Holley Mayhew

“During the first few months of life, puppies go through a developmental phase known as the critical socialization window.

“During this time, puppies are learning about the world around them and are generally curious and resilient.

“What happens to your pup during this most important developmental stage will have a direct and lasting impact on their behavioral well-being as adults.

“Undersocialized puppies will almost always develop some sort of behavioral problem, such as poor impulse control, resource guarding, anxiety, or even aggression.”

Miss Mayhew, who also trains adult dogs, is waiting to see if she has won the best dog-related business category at the Animal Star Awards, which will be announced in the spring.

Top tips for training your puppy

Don’t let your puppy cry. Letting a puppy cry causes panic and can lead to severe separation anxiety, coprophagia, and destructive behavior.

Try to limit your puppy’s opportunities to go to the bathroom in undesirable places. This is best done with crate training.

When your puppy is not in his crate, you should actively watch him for signs that he is about to go to the bathroom, such as sniffling and pacing.

Reward your puppy for grooming in the right place. Do not allow your puppy access to the whole house until he has been clean and supervised.

Teach your puppy that chewing or pinching a person’s skin or clothing immediately stops play and attention. When your puppy bites, get up and walk out of the room for a short while, then come back and resume play and attention. Avoid scolding your puppy. Provide suitable objects for your pup to put teeth on, such as a yak bar or deer antler.

For a free socialization checklist to help re-socialize your pup, email with the subject “CHECKLIST”

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