There is no way to describe 2020 other than its been a bit crazy. It has affected us in many ways and forced us into a different way of life. However, it has also affected many dogs too as they have had changes to their daily routines. No mixing with other dogs on the first lockdown, having their hoomans at home, being tic tok stars……
Dogs love company and having their hoomans at home is a dream come true but they also like peace and quiet and rest. If you have a lively household this can cause disruption to the dog as they are not used to this hive of activity 24/7, 7 days a week. They may have become over stimulated, lost their ability of self control or even a bit bitey if they are young dogs. If you have a quieter household and you are working from home you’ll find the dog just blends in and lays next to you watching you work adoringly.
Either way there can be after affects when things go back to normal, the main being separation anxiety. Also, in a lively household their loss of self control stays imbedded.
I have dogs that I walk that now destroy the house when left that never did before, some dogs recall has become none existent, some dogs have become a bit nippy with other dogs when excited and some dogs that can’t control their excitement.
So. what can we do to help ours dogs resume to their previous routine when you are back to yours. Many of you have had to already but there are still many that haven’t. Training is the key, a dog is never too old to learn and they love training because there is a reward at the end.
Re train your dog in self control like you did as a puppy, practice wait, stay and leave daily but then take it up a level by adding distraction, distance and another area other than the house like the garden or park. There are lots of videos on you tube that can give you ideas and show you how or ask your dogwalker, local trainer or doggie expert.
Re train recall by using a long line again, practice with the family in the garden with lots of happy excited voices and reward it soon comes back to them that you are the most important to them not the dog across the field. Do not forget they have been stuck in lockdown with you for a while now and not allowed to mix with their friends so of course they are going to run over and play. Let’s face it as soon as those pubs are open that’s what you will be doing.
Separation anxiety is different but manageable. You need to separate yourself from the dog in the house in baby steps to start. Put your dog behind a baby gate in the next room so they can still see you but not get to you, reward them regularly. For example, potter about in the kitchen and put the dog behind a gate in the next room. If they whimper, bark or whine just ignore and carry on your business, as soon as they stop making a noise reward them. Don’t do for too long remember it’s baby steps just a few minutes. Build this up a few minutes at a time then the next step. Give your dog a filled bone or kong filled with yummy treats like peanut butter, banana, pate, cream cheese and then leave the room but still where they can see you. You should be able to be separated for a while, if they are not interested in the kong just leave them they will probably go back to it when they are more relaxed. When you have conquered this start going out of sight for 30 seconds and coming back into sight, no making a fuss when you come back into sight either. Keep doing this and building up the time.
Try not letting your dog not follow you upstairs or room to room and do not make a fuss when you leave a room or come back just ignore. We tend to make a fuss of the dogs when we leave the house and come back which can fuel their anxiety.
Start leaving the house in baby steps too, like doing the bins out of sight as you will only be gone a few minutes, having a garden tidy, clean the car.
If you are working from home treat it like a normal working day, leave your dog where you would leave them when you go to work and you work upstairs out of sight. Try to walk the time your dog would get a walk when you are at work, get them back into a routine.
All dogs are different, some will be affected by all this and some won’t. Some of this training will work and some won’t. If these tips don’t work contact a training professional to come round and assess your dog. Contact a dogwalker to take your dogs out away from you a couple of days a week, this will help them with their socialisation again and be less dependant on you. My dogs get walked by my team as well as myself as it is good for them to be away from me from time to time.
If you are working from home and you get a dogwalker or put your dog in day care it doesn’t mean you can’t be bothered it means you care about your dogs’ wellbeing. If it was something they were used to why change?
What will happen when you do have to go back to work?
If you have got a new pup or dog during lockdown these are the things you will have to consider. There so many pet professionals that can help you now, walkers, sitters, day care, trainers, behaviourists the list goes on. This is the great thing about all these professionals being available, you can have a dog and work without feeling guilty. The dogs I walk have the best time when they are out, they are exercised and stimulated which makes them calmer and happy, what is there to feel guilty about?
2020 may have been a tough year but if you have a dog then you are blessed as they really do make the world a better place, nothing beats that dog love you really are their world.