beneficialDogs During lockdown
We don’t hear a lot about Covid-19 lockdown and Dogs unless it is relating to the transmission of the virus. Some people may say we have more important things to deal with, like saving the lives of people. I believe we owe our dogs during lockdown as much protection during this time.
Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on all of us and will do for the foreseeable future. We cant turn on the TV or radio or look at any media without seeing something relating to Covid-19. This article is one of those, and I have put off writing this article. In the end, I decided I would write about Covid-19 and our dogs. We frequently hear pets spread the virus, but we don’t hear about how we can look after our dogs during these difficult times.
First, I have to say this; Check what restrictions there are in your local area and adhere to them.
Initially, I would suggest that you look at your dogs usual routine and try to build a new one around that. For example, if you usually have a set time in the morning that you walk your dog before going to work, stick to that time. Doing this is beneficial for your dog and you. It is easy to change your way of life when you are working from home, whether it is temporary or permanent. For some, it is a great way to stop you from staying in bed too late or help you start your working day at home.
Locked Down With Your Dog.
I can’t think of any better situation during the lockdown, having my dog with me makes it easier and more relaxing. We have been allowed to walk our dog once a day for exercise, but what else can we do to help our dogs manage the change and deal with the stress and anxiety they may experience.
Indoor games for dogs can be split down further and implemented to assist our dogs.
The easiest is “Free Play”. Give your dog a pile of “Stuff” with which to play. You can include toys of their own as well as toilet roll tubes and empty cardboard boxes. Make sure that packaging has no staples or tape attached to them that may harm them or have had any contents that could physically hurt (Burn), make sick or kill your pet. You then let the dog play with the articles. Some dogs will shred cardboard, and you will need to tidy it up. You will need to decide if this is suitable as play for your dog if it rips and shred household items, as it may encourage more bad behaviour. I would only use this randomly and not to occupy the dog on its own.
Try and allocate some time where you will play with your dog. If you are at home during the day, try and spend time playing with your dog. It only needs to be a couple of minutes, and I find myself talking with Beau as we play, it is great to be able to have a conversation without anyone answering back. Games you play with your dog only need to be simple such as fetch.
During the lockdown, it is a great time to train your dog. There may be some basic training you want to work on, and that is great. To make this more fun, I would suggest teaching your dog some tricks. There are plenty of books available that explain how to breakdown teaching tricks. Some may even be useful, such as fetching you the post when it arrives.
Scent Work Games.
Scent work is an excellent way to exercise your dog’s brain and entertain them. We all know that a dog has far superior capabilities when it comes to finding things via smell. It has been said that 5 minutes scent work is equivalent to a dog running around for 15 to 20 minutes. If you are in self-isolation or wanting to give your dog more to do, then I highly recommend Scentwork. a Talking Dogs Book. Talking Dogs Scentwork is the book I started to learn this type of training. It is an excellent book which is written in an easy way to understand and follow.
Letting your dog have a Treasure Hunt is the easiest way to start a dog with scent work. All you need to do is hide their favourite treat around a room or the garden and encourage them to find them. The reward is they can eat what they find. Doing this outdoors can make the game more challenging because there are a lot more smells and other distractions. This is an easy game to start with, and dogs love it.
Scent work has developed into a sport as well as used by various law enforcement agencies to detect drugs, firearms, money etc. In your home, you can train your dog to find most things. I have a small soft toy mouse scented with catnip. Other people use clothing, their dogs favourite cheese or treat. You start by training the dog to find very easy finds and slowly develop your dog’s skills until it finds what you have hidden wherever
Sleep and Relaxation.
If your dog is used to being alone for part of the day, it probably spends some of that time sleeping and relaxing. Give your dog a place and opportunity to be alone and relax and sleep if it wants to. As I am writing this article, Beau is one a dog bed lying at my feet. It is important that during the lockdown, dogs have the freedom to do their own thing. If they have a midday sleep, let them whilst you are working from home. They may want to be alone at this time, or they may want to be near to you.
Make sure your dog has access to their bed, crate or a den. Make sure there is a safe place that your dog can wander off too when they feel like going to sleep or relax for a little while. I took these pictures of Bea as she sleeps at my feet. She wanted to sleep there, so I brought her bed to where I was working, and she is spending time sleeping and grooming herself. Every so often she will give me a nudge, and we will play ball for a while.
During the lockdown, we need to ensure our dogs are well fed but not overfed. During the initial lockdown, there was a shortage of some dog food due to people stockpiling resources. If you are ever in a position where you think you might not be able to purchase the regular food your dog eats, prepare early. Get your new food sooner than you need, and mix some with your everyday food. Feeding this to your dog and adding a little more of the new food each time will decrease the chances of your dog getting an upset stomach. Ideally, try and maintain the same food for your dog.
When you are at home more, or even full time, you spend more time with your dog, and it is easy to start giving your dog more treats. The increase in treats can come from more training and some by giving more titbits to your dog when you are eating. Never feed titbits to your dog, and keep an eye on their weight. Monitoring diet and weight isn’t something just for the lockdown; it is about having a healthy dog.
When you are training your dog, make sure you use small treats. If you can make sure they are low fat treats. If you split your training into short periods, you shouldn’t have a problem with weight gain. Make sure that you only give these treats when you are training your dog. The message your dog should learn is that the treats are a reward; from you for completing a task.