Nancy Bown, dog trainer and founder of Dog-Harmony, said there are many reasons owners may see a change in their dog’s behavior.

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SANTA ROSA BEACH — The COVID-19 virus has loomed over every facet of life, including the lives of family pets.


Nancy Bown, dog trainer and founder of Dog-Harmony, said there are many reasons owners may see a change in their dog’s behavior.


Changes in a dog’s environment and the stress of an owner can have a negative impact on man’s best friend. This can lead to owner surrenders.


“I think that most people don’t necessarily want to surrender their dogs,“ Bown said. “They just don’t know what else to do which is very frustrating.”


A dog, like a person, has a specific routine it follows every day, but with people working from home and kids off school, their routine has changed.


Owners may see changes like excessive barking while an owner is preoccupied, or animals demanding extra attention, Bown said. She said dogs can also become more rambunctious.


Bown suggests beginning to form a new routine, such as feeding or exercising during certain parts of the day.


“Every dog is an individual and it’s also how the human handles it,” she said.


Training is an important aspect of helping to curb behavioral problems during the virus and also in everyday life. She said owners don’t have to spend hours training. A few minutes a day practicing basic commands can make a huge difference.


She suggests hiding toys or treats around the house, and filling an egg carton with kibble for the dog to open.


“There’s no time in life that a dog can’t be trained,” she said. ”You’ll have to have more patience with an older dog.“


The stress of an owner can also play a role in behavioral changes. Some breeds are more susceptible to sensing their owner’s stress. Two breeds Bown works with that showcase these traits are golden retrievers and shepherds.


Bown is currently offering free over the phone training to pet owners. Her Facebook page is also a source for tips and tricks on keeping a dog entertained and active.


For more information on Dog-Harmony, people can call 850-376-4190 or email hello@dog-harmony.org