Do pets suffer from widespread decontamination?

Dog trainer Simonne Raffa recently had to deal with a little bitch (call her Lili to protect her identity) who panicked as soon as she left the house where she had been confined since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Its owners have recently released it,” said the animal behavior expert and co-founder of De main de maître. Elle was overly stressed. She was afraid of all humans. She was hypersalivating. She was always looking to get home. This is a common problem, and dogs who suffer from it even have difficulty meeting their veterinarian. »

Lili was still auscultated by her caregiver, who prescribed medication to reduce her anxiety. Reeducation based on a cognitive-behavioral approach and then allowed the transformation of emotions related to certain situations.

The usual therapeutic routine, what, for animals as well as for their masters. The same remedies correspond to the same sociopsychological ills of the pandemic.

Mme Raffa has seen many more or less similar cases for some time. A more serious one involved a dog that bit a passerby after leaving his residence.

“We see more frightened biting dogs,” said the educator. This one was adopted by a bad breeder who mis-socialized the animal and mis-selected the breeders. The pandemic exacerbated the problems and the dog did not receive proper training. »

It remains to be seen if corrections (including a muzzle) and rehabilitation will save this nasty dog. In any case, for him as well as for his less ill-tempered peers, the hour of truth has come: their owners are returning to work in person and en masse. They now need to learn how to live in a new world, in a depopulated home during the day, and in an environment overloaded with humans, animals, and stimuli during the few daily outings.

3.2 million friends

The number of dogs and cats living in Quebec homes increased by 200,000 during the first 18 months of the pandemic. according to a survey commissioned in the fall of 2021 by the Association des médecins vétérinaires du Québec (AMVQ) in the practice of small animals. This hairy people now has about 3.25 million individuals, with basically two kittens for a pitou. For the first time, more than half of Quebec’s households house at least one.

Relationships were then very good, with just 3.5% of respondents complaining about the “cohabitation experience” with the new dog, which was considered more or less good (2%) or downright bad ( 1.5%). However, various problems were mentioned, including the fear of strangers by the animal (19%), the difficulty of being alone at home (17%) and excessive barking (15%).

You don’t have to mix everything up either. Prepandemic (let’s say) animals seem to adapt more easily when they return to their near normalcy.

People who have a dog old enough to have known the world before, interviewed on Sunday at Montreal’s Laurier Park, had only good words for their companion. Julien Demonchy adopted Oka (“like cheese”) three and a half years ago. He called in an instructor “very early on,” and the adaptation to recent changes (six months confined, a full-time return to work as a baker-pastry chef) was exemplary.

“It’s not easy to leave my bitch alone all day,” said Demonchy, sitting on the grass as Oka slept behind him. Mais elle is well educated and has no problems. I do my part too. As soon as the work is done, I go back to take care of her. »

The challenges seem to be greater with what canine educator Jean Lessard calls the “COVID puppies,” adopted and then isolated for two years. To them, hell is the absence of the master and the presence of other beasts.

“Les coots COVID is not about socializing. They have developed a lot of aversion and fear of all sorts of things in their environment, including other dogs, he says. They stayed with their human owners 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s hard to leave them alone now. »

Two friends, Clara Costa and Andrew McPhee, who also met on Sunday at Laurier Park, gave positive counterexamples. Mme Costa has adopted little Soka in the midst of a pandemic in Spain. They emigrated. „She is very calm, CV-ul. Elle is well raised. Mr. McPhee has been Archer, a young crossbred dog, for two months. He telecommutes, like his wife. “It’s an animal with a lot of energy,” he said. I take it out very often. »

Canine tele-education

Jean Lessard has been a dog trainer for about 25 years. Its workload has increased since the beginning of the pandemic (“maybe a quarter”), but simply because more dogs and cats have been adopted. Mme Raffa, on the other hand, claims an increase of about 45% in the volume of its services.

“There has been an increase in the number of pets and therefore an increase in demand for services,” she said. There are more dogs in town than before. They intersect and socialization problems intensify. In addition, due to a lack of staff, like other companies, we are saturated with requests. »

Jean Lessard was able to transfer some of his services to the vision. Simonne Raffa was already well established before the pandemic. De main de maître now offers less than 77 online bands.

“Re-educating an animal is only part of the job,” she says. In fact, the owner is asked to learn how to do better with his pet. It is the owner who needs to change, for example to put in place an energy spending program for his dog or to reduce his aggressive behavior. »

Separation anxiety related to fear of abandonment requires even more tact and even more specialized educators. An American study has just estimated that the rate of separation anxiety has swelled by 700% in dogs in two years.

“People go back to work and their dogs develop behavioral problems,” he saidme Raffa. Some are abandoning them, and the shelters are now full to the brim before even the July relocation period. If someone wants to abandon their pet, now they have to make an appointment [qui sera] fixed two or three weeks later, and in the meantime find solutions. »

Élise Desaulniers, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Montreal, is much less alarmist. She says she hasn’t heard of any particular issues with face-to-face work-related pets and wonders if the gradual return to a hybrid mode isn’t for something.

“The change is less radical than at the beginning of the pandemic, with the containment,” she said. The return to normalcy is gradual, and I don’t feel a shock wave around me. »

The SPCA has resumed its usual pace or almost, with a very busy end of spring due to the more numerous births of kittens, the care given to orphaned wildlife animals (squirrels, raccoons …). And then, like many others, this employer has to deal with inflation and the difficulty of recruiting staff.

Mme Desaulniers herself has resumed working in the office three or four days a week for several months. “My two cats resent me a little,” she said. I think they’d rather have me at home, but that’s hard to say, because communication isn’t that easy with cats. I still feel bored. When I get home at the end of the day, they are near the door and ask for more attention. But when I work at home, if I make too much noise, I know I’m pissed ”

See in the video

Leave a Comment