Lockdown puppies now suffering stress and separation anxiety

Puppies adopted by Americans working from home throughout the pandemic are suffering from stress and anxiety as their owners return to work, a study says.

A team from Auburn University found these 'pandemic puppies' are fearful during encounters with other dogs and humans because they spent so much of their early lives cooped up inside. 

They were also found to sometimes panic when exposed to an unfamiliar environment, and are struggling to cope with being alone as their owners return to the office as the United States reopens. 

This, according to researchers, is because the animals were confined inside homes during their first three months of their lives, which are extremely important to its social development.  

Around 3 million Americans purchased or adopted a pet at the height of the pandemic, but now that restrictions are lifting for much of the US, these puppies are just now starting to explore the world – with many facing behavioral and social challenges.

Cat Clutton, a certified dog trainer and founder at ReKalibratedK9 Dog Training Services in Opelika, Alabama, said this early three-month period is critical to a dog's lifetime behavioral patterns.

'During this time frame, puppies learn how to properly bond and socially communicate with both other dogs and people, as well as how to interact with and respond to different environments,' Clutton said. 

'Simply put, dogs that are not properly exposed to a variety of individuals, objects, sights, sounds, smells and environments during this period may always be fearful of some of those same things.'

Not only were these pandemic pups secluded from the world like their owners, many of them were adopted by first-time owners who are more likely to make mistakes raising a young pet.

The American Kennel Club estimates that 73 percent of first-time dog owners who adopted a puppy during the pandemic have at least considered rehoming them or turning them in to a shelter.