Canine column: ‘Our dogs’ needs are twofold at this time’
As lockdown rumbles on, we need to continue to remember the needs of our dogs at this difficult time.
As it becomes the new normal for us, there is a time in the not too distant future (hopefully) where this will all change again, and our dogs will have to adapt.
Dogs’ needs are twofold at the moment: firstly, their needs during lockdown, and secondly, their needs as lockdown eases.
There are several things we can continue to do now which will help our dogs to feel less anxious but also prepare them in some ways for life after lockdown.
A regular routine – many dogs thrive on routine or at least a predictable pattern of behaviour. I’m guessing you are a bit like me in that you have a fairly stable routine outside of lockdown and that it is currently a bit more up in the air! Although dogs can obviously cope with changes in routine, to keep their stress levels as low as possible try to keep a steady routine day to day. This will also help them to transition back when we do start to go out and about more often.
Ensure your walks are safe and fulfilling – to maintain social distancing, ensure your dog is on a long line or lead when walking around other dogs, if you are not 100 per cent confident that they are going to come back to you when called.
We can’t just go and get our puppies out of situations like we can normally, as we may need to get to close to others, so use management to ensure you are not put into this situation. You can also make your walks more mentally tiring using their nose, so hide some treats for your dog to find.
Alternative activities – as well as walking, tiring your dog out mentally can really help them. I always turn to scent work when I want to tire my dog out. This can be as simple as hiding treats around the home or garden for them to sniff out. You could also build a simple agility course in your garden using sticks and chairs! You can be creative or even just do a training session!
Make your dog’s meals last longer – your dog’s meal time is a high point in their day – what could you do to make it last longer? Let sleeping dogs lie… let them rest as much as possible!