For our dogs, the Covid-19 lockdown might be the best thing that has ever happened to them. All of their family is home, they are getting tons of attention, and overall getting walked by everyone in the house!
But, it's important that we do these three things to ensure that, once this Lockdown is over, our dog's behaviour is better than it was when it began.
1: When you go out, don't always take your dog:
You might be so happy you can walk your dog more during their day to day lives. You might be thrilled that you can spend more time with your furry friend.
But there is always the risk of Seperation Anxiety developing if we are not careful. To mitigate this, have a think about not talking your dog for your one exercise walk a day.
Because you are home all of the time now, your dog will be getting used to that. We need to build routinely leaving them alone for short periods of time, otherwise their behaviour might regress and seperation anxiety can develop. Substitute walking them for some playtime in the garden or some training as their mental and physical exercise, and go for a fifteen-twenty minute walk without them.
These small absences are crucial for your dog. Because once everything returns to normal, they won't understand why they can't be with you all the time.
2: Enforce rest times:
By 'enforce' I don't mean lock your dog in a cage and refuse to let them out. I mean that you need to ensure your dog has time away from the hustle and bustle of your much busier house. This ties heavily into point one, but we also need to think of it from the dog's point of view.
If you have children, it is likely they are in an educational setting for most of the day. As such, your dog has time to rest and relax.
But now they are at home, and while it certainly isn't your children's fault, their exuberance might be too much for your dog. And these behaviours could develop into mouthing, jumping up or worse.
As such, working on putting your dog in a different room with some enrichment toys is necessary. Giving them a safe space away from the rest of the world to get some rest, especially if they are an older dog, can be crucial for maintaining a happy home life.
Build structured rest time into their day to day, which brings me to my final point.
3: Ensure your dog has a routine:
For our anxious dogs, routine changes can be disasterous. Predictability doesn't tend to cause anxiety, and it is the same for our dogs.
Having a set routine for you to follow will greatly benefit your dog's ability to cope in this new environment. Whether it's feeding in the same room at a similar time, crating them at a specific time while you do some work, adding in a training session to your day etc. All of these things will help keep a bit of structure in your dog's life.
It is important, however, for dogs to be able to cope with changes in their life. Their overall reslience to environmental changes should be a massive focus if you have a puppy. However, if you have a dog that suffers with anxiety or is reactive, this small tweaks could lead to a much happier dog.
There is no right answer for this quarantine situation. It is likely that issues with our dogs will either develop, or we will notice them for the first time.
But provided we attempt to follow the steps above, we'll help stave off seperation anxiety, keep our anxious dogs calm and ensure they are well-rested for the strange times ahead.