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Open AccessArticle

Impact of the First COVID-19 Lockdown on Management of Pet Dogs in the UK

Dogs Trust, London EC1V 7RQ, UK
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These Authors contributed equally to this work.
Animals 2021, 11(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010005
Received: 20 November 2020 / Revised: 14 December 2020 / Accepted: 18 December 2020 / Published: 22 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of COVID-19 on Animal Management and Welfare)
Initial COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom (23 March–12 May 2020) prompted many people to change their lifestyle. We explored the impact of this lockdown phase on pet dog welfare using an online survey of 6004 dog owners, who provided information including dog management data for the 7 days prior to survey completion (4–12 May 2020), and for February 2020 (pre-lockdown). Most owners believed that their dog’s routine had changed due to lockdown restrictions. Many dogs were left alone less frequently and for less time during lockdown and were spending more time with household adults and children. During lockdown, dogs were typically walked less often and for less time daily, with factors related to the dog, owner, household, and location of the home associated with the extent to which dog walking had been reduced. Dogs were more likely to be walked on a lead and had fewer opportunities to interact with other dogs during lockdown. However, many dogs had more play/training sessions with their owners and were given toys more frequently during lockdown. These changes to dog management have the potential for longer-term welfare problems such as increased likelihood of dogs displaying separation-related behaviour as lockdown measures relax.
Initial COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom (23 March–12 May 2020) prompted lifestyle changes for many people. We explored the impact of this lockdown phase on pet dogs using an online survey completed by 6004 dog owners, who provided information including dog management data for the 7 days prior to survey completion (4–12 May 2020), and for February 2020 (pre-lockdown). We explored associations between potential predictors and four outcomes relating to changes pre-/during lockdown (reduction in number and duration of walks; increased frequency of play/training, and provision of toys). Most owners (79.5%) reported their dog’s routine had changed compared to pre-lockdown. There was a four-fold increase in the proportion not left alone for >5 min on any day during a weekly period (14.6% pre-lockdown, 58.0% during lockdown), with the proportion being left for ≥3 h at a time decreasing from 48.5% to 5.4%. Dogs were walked less often and for less time daily during lockdown, with factors related to the dog, owner, household, and home location associated with changes to walking practices. Many dogs had more play/training sessions and were given toys more frequently during lockdown. Decreased walk duration was associated with increased odds of play/training opportunities and toy provision. These changes to dog management have the potential for immediate and longer-term welfare problems. View Full-Text
Keywords: dogs; COVID-19; lockdown; behaviour; welfare; human–animal interaction; management dogs; COVID-19; lockdown; behaviour; welfare; human–animal interaction; management
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MDPI and ACS Style

Christley, R.M.; Murray, J.K.; Anderson, K.L.; Buckland, E.L.; Casey, R.A.; Harvey, N.D.; Harris, L.; Holland, K.E.; McMillan, K.M.; Mead, R.; Owczarczak-Garstecka, S.C.; Upjohn, M.M. Impact of the First COVID-19 Lockdown on Management of Pet Dogs in the UK. Animals 2021, 11, 5. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010005

AMA Style

Christley RM, Murray JK, Anderson KL, Buckland EL, Casey RA, Harvey ND, Harris L, Holland KE, McMillan KM, Mead R, Owczarczak-Garstecka SC, Upjohn MM. Impact of the First COVID-19 Lockdown on Management of Pet Dogs in the UK. Animals. 2021; 11(1):5. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010005

Chicago/Turabian Style

Christley, Robert M.; Murray, Jane K.; Anderson, Katharine L.; Buckland, Emma L.; Casey, Rachel A.; Harvey, Naomi D.; Harris, Lauren; Holland, Katrina E.; McMillan, Kirsten M.; Mead, Rebecca; Owczarczak-Garstecka, Sara C.; Upjohn, Melissa M. 2021. "Impact of the First COVID-19 Lockdown on Management of Pet Dogs in the UK" Animals 11, no. 1: 5. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010005

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