• Paul Hodgkinson Vet Physio

Preparing your dog for life after lock-down.!

Lock-down has impacted everyone’s life in some way or another, but have you considered the effects it has had on your four-legged friends?

Lots of dogs will be loving their owners being home a lot more during lock-down, but for some the changes could have brought on stress and anxiety. I’ve heard many people say that they don’t like the lack of routine during this time, so imagine how your dog is feeling. They love routine! Feeding times have changed; exercise times changed, quiet times and rest times have changed. The list is endless and their worlds have been turned upside down with no understanding as to why.

So now that the country is looking at ways to get back to a normal (ish) life. What can we, as dog owners do to make sure that our furry companions have a smooth transition back into the real world.

Top Tips:

· Factor in time away from your dog each day – for example leave your dog in another room or area of the house whilst you are tasked with jobs or working from home.

· Feeding times should be maintained to that of normal life routine. Remember, a lot of dogs feeding times will impact on other things dogs need to do, if you know what I mean! They’ve probably had extra treats, try to limit this and only use treats as a reward.

· Quiet times for your dog are important. Some dogs may get much needed sleep whilst nobody is in the house. Maybe set up a human free zone like a dog den, with blankets for your dog to escape the hustle and bustle of the house. Make sure everyone understands not to interfere with your dog whilst it is in this area.

· Exercise should be daily and should replicate normal life. Extra activity is always good whether that be, at home play, training or enrichment sessions to burn off that extra energy. If when you return to work you would exercise early morning, try to keep this routine.

· Going to the toilet is probably something your dog does as routine, during exercise. If you are about to suddenly go back to work with no preparation this could lead to your dog having accidents. If they do remember it’s not their fault, don’t punish them. Instead, be prepared. Nobody knows your dog better than you, give them time to adjust to changes that may be coming.

· Purchase some new toys. If your dog is going to be suddenly left alone again, you may find that it will suffer from separation anxiety. Key signs of this are ; Destructive behaviour, Howling & Barking, Toileting, Trembling, Pacing, Self Mutilation. Something that may help this is providing your dog with some entertainment. Try toys that are interactive, treat and ball releasers, kongs or slow food release toys.

Dogs, like us need time to adapt. Ensure that you provide them with enough time and preparation for any big changes that are on the horizon. They’ve probably provided a lot of comfort during recent times and now is no time to forget about what we need to do for them.