England is in its third lockdown and people are spending more time at home and with their dog. It is important, therefore, to think about the dog’s perspective on lockdown and the implications it has, not just now but for when life does return to normal.
Being home all day with your dog should be a good thing right? Not necessarily. It’s important to keep in mind that any change in routine can be stressful for all animals, human and non-human. Dogs trust has found that owners are seeing at least one new problem behaviour during lockdown.(1)
So how can we help? Well routine is key. Although there has been a massive change to all of our routines, try to keep it as similar to your old routine as possible. For example, getting up at the same time, walking the dog/letting them out into the garden at the same time, feeding at the same time. The more predictable their day is the more secure they will feel after a change and the closer to your old routine the better as it will mean less of a change when lockdown rules are lifted or eased. Of course, you can still keep to your normal weekend routine.
Alone time is a good thing, it gives dogs the time and space to relax, unwind and sleep. It is important for them to feel secure and happy without you. Prevention of problem behaviours such as separation anxiety will be a lot easier than treating them. Therefore, if your dog is used to being alone, be sure to still give them their alone time. They may seem like they are much happier with you around but keeping up their ability to cope without you will make both your and their life a lot happier when you are able to go back to work, or have evenings/days out without them.
Dogs can also become bored and frustrated when there is a decrease in the amount of exercise they are having, and there are plenty of interactive toys and games you can get or make at home to help with this.
There is plenty of information and help out there; the most important thing to remember is this is a very stressful time for us all, including our pets.
Some helpful websites to check out are:
- Reasearch carried out by the dogs trust research team from [04 May 2020] to [12 May 2020] of 6004 respondents. Www.dogstrust.org.uk/news-events/news/2020/dogs-trust-warns-of-impending-dog-behaviour-crisis-as-new-research-shows-the-impact-of-lockdown-on-the-nation-s-dogs
By: Carly Tempany BSc (Hons), RVN