3 steps to help your dog adjust when Lockdown ends

How will your dog cope after Covid/19 when Lockdown ends?

There has never been a time like now.

Our dogs must be in 7th heaven because we are here with them 24/7 at the moment. What will they be like when we all start going out and leaving them again when Lockdown is over?

First let us travel back into what seems like the distant past before Lockdown and is it really only two months ago?   What was your daily life like? Some of you went out into the world to work.  Children went to school.  Sometimes you went out shopping, to visit friends and family or to restaurants or the cinema, theatre, Your pet may have been left in Doggy Day Care or been taken for a walk by a dog walker. Your Best Friend was left on his own some of the time during the day.

Remember your dog’s life then? Sometimes he came out once or twice a day for a lovely walk in the park or to dog training club or a ramble with friends.  You both had the freedom to do all these things and more while Corona Virus was not yet a major worry. Sometimes when you went out you left your dog on his own, him settling down on his bed or in his crate and dreaming of walkies with you, chicken dinner, or chasing squirrels.  Just dreaming, legs a twitching until you came home again.

Today under Lockdown you may be working from home or on Furlough.  The children are home all day. How does all this look to your 4 -legged friend? He is with you and following you around the house even to the loo! You take him out for a walk to get some exercise.  Maybe your shopping is delivered. Your dog feels happy and safe. This is life now for the foreseeable future. How long life will be this way is unknown but your buddy gets used to this new routine of having you around all the time.

Nothing stays the same.  Already the government is talking about relaxing some of the stringent Lockdown and Isolation measures.  One day in the hopefully not too distant future you will  ready to return to work and the children are excited to see their friends again at school.  Or maybe have mixed emotions.  What about your dog? What will it be like for him? He will not be so used to being left on his own will he? Take a minute and think how he will cope to this big change in his routine, and how his life will look from now on.

The best time to think about preparing your dogs for this time is now while you are home with them.

The 3 things we can do to help our dog prepare for the future are Exercise, Relaxation and Training

  1.  EXERCISE

Exercise is more than a stroll in the park.  To help him get rid of pent up feelings during enforced isolation, the exercise you undertake needs to be energetic.  These exercises can be done in the home, garden or in the park, remembering to keep your distance from others.

If you have a young dog or pup please remember the Kennel Club guidelines to prevent damage to their soft joints:

five minutes walk for each month of your dog’s age, twice a day.

For instance: 

5 month old puppy 5 x 5 = 25 minutes twice a day.

12 months old puppy 12 x 5 = 60 minutes or one hour twice a day.

Ok, let us be honest.  Haven’t we all been eating more while we have been at home?  Our dogs too! So another benefit to exercise is keep fit.  If you are able, run with your dog, as a team.  If you come across a fallen log in the park, jump over it together.  As you jump throw your arms in the air.  Nip in and out of obstacles, hide behind trees and make a huge fuss of you dog when he finds you!  Above all discover the joy of movement and have fun together!

2RELAXATION

Self-isolation is a good opportunity to teach our dogs to relax at home while we are there

First we need to help our dogs to understand what it is to relax.

Praise your dog softly when you see him sitting or lying down nicely chilled out (not sleeping though).  “Oh you are a good girl, nice and calm there.”

One way you can help your dog relax is by grooming him.  This is not the job to get him ready for Crufts!  This is a quiet time exercise maybe attempted at the end of the day.  Go over your dog with your hands first, checking for lumps, foreign bodies (leaves or twigs) and livestock (fleas or ticks).  Next using a soft puppy brush or baby brush and starting at the head, very gently, slowly brush your dog in the direction the hair lies, softly  talking to  him as you go.   Do this every evening if you can it is so bonding for both of you.

  1. TRAINING

I want my dogs to be happy and comfortable whenever I leave them on their own in the house.

Take advantage of Lockdown to prepare your dog for the new normal to come. The best time to think about preparing your dog for this time is now while you are home with them.
Make it very normal for you to leave them to their own devises some of the time. This is all done without fuss or excitement. Your aim is for your dog to be content alone while you are busy elsewhere in the house

To Prepare for this training, make sure your dogs basic needs have been met.  He has had a meal, been to the toilet outside, had some exercise. Make sure clean water is always available to him. Put the Radio or TV on for him. Classical music will help him to relax.

  1. Leave them on their own in one room while you are in another. Use baby gates to help them get used to being content alone because they can see and hear you.  Drop a tasty treat or stuffed Kong on the floor and close the door/gate. If the dog makes a fuss, barks or whines go straight back in and try again.  Settle him on his bed with his Kong then leave the room.  Try to go back into the room BEFORE he makes a disturbance so you do not let him practice the unwanted behaviour.  Ask him to Settle and leave him again for 30 seconds, if he stays quietly, extend the time to one minute, then two minutes, 5 minutes then 10 minutes.  Finally,    leave doggy in the lounge while you go upstairs to do the housework,
  2. Leave the dog in the kitchen while you do the gardening.  Leave them for a few minutes at first and the next time 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour. If they bark or whine go back to the previous step and get that step rock solid before you move on to the next time stage. Always praise them quietly when they have waited calmly for your return.

Finally here is a Stuffed Kong Recipe for you to try:

I mashed banana

Some natural low fat yoghurt.

Some honey or peanut butter

Mix everything together, stuff the kong and freeze it ready for use.

Next week I will show you some more examples of the 3 steps to help your dog adjust when Lockdown is over, making a smoother transition from this stage to the next.

See you next time,

Christine Seddon

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LWDadmin