Wow, what a crazy time this has been for everyone and for their animals too. From the cats and dogs being the best companions, to the chickens laying families their daily eggs and even horses allowing people to take time to reflect whilst riding across the countryside.
For dogs in particular, this period of lock down and self-isolation has brought about a host of lifestyle changes. Unfortunately for some, this has the potential to cause more harm than good.
Dogs are now in a home with people 24/7. For some, this is normal, for others, not so much. This has the potential to bring about an increase in negative dog behaviour and in turn could lead to an increase of dogs being given up or abandoned. Dogs do not understand why everyone is home all of a sudden. Nor do they understand why children all of a sudden want to play with them or cuddle them every hour. Having spoken to Avril Munson , it appears that this increased contact time is already leading to cases of separation anxiety, as well as aggression due to dogs not having space to rest, sleep or just be themselves like they would have previously.
So, ensure you give your dogs time on their own, time to eat alone, time to sleep and rest without being disturbed. They look up to us for guidance and love all of the time, so listening to them in a strange time for them is vital.
Whilst watching the news and scrolling through social media, you will be seeing an increase in footage of dog walkers around the world. Dog walking is fantastic! A great way to allow everyone to exercise, socialise and spend some quality time with their dog.
Was your dog walked this much before?
Does your dog require the exercise you are now giving them?
Will you be able to continue post lockdown once they are fit and expecting this level of exercise?
Have you changed your dog’s diet accordingly to match the change in exercise pattern?
Does your dog have any health conditions that could be affected by excessive walking, warmer/dryer conditions, meeting numerous other dogs, walking on different surfaces they weren’t previously?
There are so many questions that I believe need to be addressed during this time, especially when vets are only open for emergencies, access to supplements and drugs isn’t as straight forward, therapists are unable to treat your dog and a dog’s companionship is required more now than ever. This is not advising against walking your dogs! This is advice to ensure your dogs are getting what THEY need whilst you need them the most.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”– Josh Billings
These simple tips are easy to follow and help ensure your dog can be as happy and comfortable as the should be.
1. Ensure your dog is getting the exercise they require for their breed and temperament. For example dogs like spaniels and collies will need a lot more exercise than pugs and bulldogs.
2. If, once the lockdown is lifted, there will be a need for you to leave the dog alone for periods, it is important that you ensure your dog is left alone for short periods, even if this is them being confined to one part of the house whilst you are busy elsewhere. If this isn’t put in place, when you go back to work they will not understand and this could lead to anxiety and behavioural issues. If you have concerns on how to address this with you all at home, reach out to your local dog behaviourist.
3. If you have significantly increased your dog’s exercise and this is going to continue, ensure you are feeding them a suitable food that will replenish what they use up and ensures their whole body is being maintained efficiently.
4. If you have children, ensure the dogs have a space where they can get away if it gets too much for them, ensure they continue to feel safe in their own home. Although kids mean no harm, so do dogs and its only fair they have the ability to escape to their safe place. If not this could lead to aggression or boisterous play. If you have any concerns or you are unsure call your local dog behaviourist.
5. Give your dogs a rest day if they need it or limit certain walks to ‘on lead’ only. This allows their body to recover, any sore muscles to rest, allows them to replenish fluids and food stores and allows them to be around you and not be anxious about leaving the house. This does not stop you doing some games and training certain days in your home or garden to engage your dog and mentally stimulate them.
6. Take it easy with repetitive strain exercises such as ball throwing and frisbee catching. The constant repetition of running and skidding and stopping and starting is a huge factor in repetitive strain injuries as well as exhaustion in dogs. A lot of dogs will just keep going as they love it but are taking instruction from you.
7. If you have any concerns if your dog is stiff, sore, lame or lacking energy, reach out to your local Canine therapists. I, like many others, can help remotely, give you tips, stretching ideas, massage techniques for you to help them out and instruct an exercise and training regime to ensure your dog gets exactly what they need to stay fit and healthy.
8. Does your collar and harness fit your dog properly? Could it be affecting their way of movement or rubbing on their skin – take time to scan your dog daily to check for any change – especially longer haired dogs where it may not be so obvious.
9. If you see a dog distressed, abandoned or in a dangerous situation, report them to the authorities. Your local councils will still have dog wardens, there are local rescue centres still working around the clock and charities responding to emergencies.
10. Enjoy your dogs company! Allow them to relax with you, allow them to just be present and not a chore but most importantly, listen to them.
“Simple things relieve eyes; simple things ease mind, simple things create meditation, simple things are simply miraculous!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan
Report abandoned and stray animals to: https://www.rspca.org.uk/utilities/contactus/reportcruelty
Report antisocial behaviour with animals including illegal activity to your local police.
If you have any questions or queries regarding your dog please do not hesitate to contact me @ELCANIMALTHERAPY and I will be there to help you and your dog.