Your Dog and Lockdown: How Are They Coping?

"I’ve been thinking about social distancing and lock down/stay in place orders and how it impacts our dogs in different ways.

"I’ve been thinking about social distancing and lock down/stay in place orders and how it impacts our dogs in different ways.

I’ve heard some people say their dogs are calmer and more relaxed now that everyone is home more. Now I’ve seen this with my own dogs and it’s very nice. I realized that typically my husband and I are only both home during the day on the weekends. At the weekends we’re more active, so my dogs got used us both being home as a predictor to things happening and were more alert to any moments we made. Now with my husband working from home during the week that predictor is losing strength and power because honestly very little is happening.

One of us getting up now is probably related to getting another cup of tea or coffee.

Now it could also be related to us being able to meet our dogs emotional, physical and mental stimulation needs in a better way for them.

Is your dog having more quiet yard time that helps them relax or are they getting more long lasting chews because you’re home more and can supervise them?

Maybe your dog is getting more exercise, or exercise that suits them better, more canine enrichment for mental stimulation or more one on one time with you to meet their emotional needs.

Whatever it is, try to think how your routine has changed and I’d highly recommend starting a calmness journal for your dog for this very reason. Then you can decide if there are things you can still do when everything starts to return to what we used to call normal life to help maintain your dogs new level of calmness.

Now some dogs may be more active. Suddenly the whole family is home all day. If that includes children then the energy level in the house may have gone up and your dogs time to chill and relax may have reduced considerably. That reduction in chill out time can definitely cause some changes in behavior.

Try and think if there’s a way you can give your dog some quiet time each day because maintaining or building calmness is the foundation for so much more. Calmness can help reduce or prevent unwanted behaviors occurring.

Sleep and quiet time is so important for all dogs. Puppies need up to 20 hours sleep a day and that’s going to be harder to achieve when everyone is home. Seniors also tend to sleep more and this is normal. An average dog typically needs a minimum of 12-14 hours of sleep a day though this can vary with size and activity levels.

So what can you do to help your dog when everyone is home more and allow them to transition back to being left alone again when you go back to work?

Well here’s a quick list of things to help and make your time home together more enjoyable.

1. Teach them a new trick

This could be anything from giving their paw, sitting cutely in a box, sitting pretty or rolling over. Teaching tricks is a great way to learn what training style works best for your dog so you know what’s best when you need to train that loose leash walking or awesome recall and provides mental stimulation for your dog.

2. Give them a safe space

Make sure your dog has an area where they can go and just chill out. This is particularly important if there is more activity in your house and they aren’t getting the quiet time they’re used to when everyone’s at work or school.

3. “Do Not Disturb Time"

Dogs need more sleep than we do so why not give your dog a “do not disturb time’ every day especially if they are used to being alone during the day. If you’ve kids get them involved by making ‘Do Not Disturb’, ‘Chill Time’ or ‘Snooze Time’ signs that can be hung up when your dog is having some well deserved quiet time. This can help your kids to be involved in your dogs quiet rather than feeling excluded.

4. Keep Training Sessions Short

When it comes to training more isn’t always good. Too much training and long sessions can be demotivating for some dogs. So while training is great keep it to short sessions!! The best way to do this is try some KETTLE SESSIONS. Pop on the kettle and train until it boils. It’s a guaranteed way to keep sessions short.

5. Chew Time

Provide appropriate long lasting chews/stuffed Kongs or similar. Chewing is a passive calming activity so this is a great way to help your dog build calmness into its day.

6. Give your dog time away from you

Now this can be separate or combined with do not disturb time and giving your dog a long lasting chew or kong. This is a great way to help your dog transition back to the ‘old normality’ when everyone heads back to work and school. Maintaining that level of independence is really important.

7. Reward Calmness

This should be part of your daily life whenever possible. Now we need to remember that our dogs need their quiet time but you also need to be able to reward them for this awesome behavior. So every so often when your dog is being quiet just walk up place a treat beside them and walk away: don’t say anything. Chances are they will get up the first few times but soon they’ll begin to realize being calm pays!!! For really alert dogs give them a chew or kong so that they can begin to settle and then drop an even tastier treat beside them and walk away. This allows you to reward the calmness: just remember to drop the food rather than place it if they are already eating.

8. Exercise Time

Remember to give your dog exercise that is suitable for them. Although their normal exercise may not be possible try and replace it with something comparable.

9. Have FUN!!!

Now this is one is REALLY IMPORTANT!! I know this seems obvious but sometimes when we are home more we can end up spending much more time with our dogs but it isn’t always quality time. We should never go for quantity over quality so teaching a new trick and using kettle sessions are perfect to make sure you get fun QUALITY TIME with your dog. Having something fun to look forward to every day will be beneficial for both you and your dog!!

So there’s some of my top tips to help your dog thrive during this time of uncertainty.

So have you noticed changes in your dogs behavior? Are they positive changes or does your dog need a little more help adjusting to the new ‘normal’?

If so let me know, I’d love to hear how you’re all getting along!