When lockdowns were first imposed the world over in 2020, the dog population must have felt like they had won the jackpot! More time with you, longer walks than ever and being there for us when things got a little bit rough. But what happens when normal life resumes? Will the change cause our dogs to feel sad, lonely, or anxious? Perhaps you are a new dog owner whose pet has not known anything BUT lockdown life?
Do not fear! Dr Roger Mugford is here to help you ensure your dog can enjoy a stress-free transition back to normality with 10 simple steps:
Dr Roger’s Do’s and Don’ts
- Teach your dog to accept separation from you NOW, before your day-to-day routine changes. You can do this by occasionally closing doors between you and your dog while you busy yourself in different parts of the house. Make sure you vary times and places too.
- Leave on a casual and calm note (try and refrain from sweet talk, hugs, and strokes) but be super loving and fun at reunions.
- If your dog is now very well exercised as a result of lockdown, prepare for your return to work with a long, exhausting but fun–filled walk for the dog. This will have them relax and sleep for a lot of the time you are away!
- When you leave the house, play your usual radio station, and gift your dog some of your old, unwashed(!) clothes for them to lie/sleep on. This will help them feel close to you. Awwwww!
- Usually, it’s very beneficial for you to leave all internal doors open so he/she has the “run” of the house.
- IF it is safe to do so, you might consider installing a dog flap so there is access to the garden.
- Provide safe, boredom-busting chew toys such as a rubber Kong stuffed with tasty food. The stuffed Kong can be “loaded” then frozen to provide longer-lasting distraction as it thaws.
- Invest in a webcam or other online camera so you can watch what your dog does while you are away. Check out the integrated camera/reward-based gadget PupPod. This fun and interactive online training system will revolutionise the quality of dogs lives during separation from owners.
- If your dog is really not accepting the end of your lockdown, consider a daytime alliance with neighbours (dog share!!), or checking your dog into doggy day-care – an excellent way to rebuild canine social skills!
- Bring your dog to work! We’ve all had to adapt as a result of Covid-19 and if you have a well-trained pet you may be able to persuade your boss to allowing your four-legged friend to join you in the workplace for a couple days a week.