Are Behavioural Problems Worse with the Hong Kong Lifestyle?

As a vet, I definitely see more behavioural issues and problems in Hong Kong than when I have practised in other countries, and I believe this is mainly due to the way we live. Apartments in Hong Kong can be quite small and have limited opportunities for contact with the outside world and socialisation. I see many dogs that never leave the house – and it’s hard to expect a dog to know how to behave towards strangers or new situations when they have very little previous experience. People also work hard in Hong Kong, and long hours and travel can mean less time to spend with the family dog. In both of these cases I think it is important that people devote time every day to just being “pet time”, spent playing with the dog, taking him for a walk, interacting and having fun. Maybe also try to get a local dog walking group going – this will really help with socialisation and interaction.

On the flip-side, many houses in Hong Kong have a helper, which can mean that a dog is rarely alone and hence can get very anxious if they do have to be left. For this reason I think that dogs should get used to being alone for short periods right from when they first come to a new family. This way they are familiar with being left and will not become anxious. Of course I don’t think a dog should be left alone for more than a few hours if possible.