How To Prepare Your Dog For The End Of Lockdown
There is definitely one family member who has benefitted from the Coronavirus lockdown, and that’s our fluffy companions! Lots of cuddles and long walks have been a big treat for our dogs as we have been able to spend more quality time with our pets than ever before.
As the nation starts to get ready for the ‘back-to-work’ mindset, following the announcement of a four-month roadmap, we should also think about how this change will have an affect on our dogs and how we can help them adjust to life after lockdown.
The biggest concern for our dogs is separation anxiety, and even though it has been a pleasure to have our dogs by our constant side, this dramatic change of us being home for most hours of the day to a return to a 9-5 job, can lead to some emotional and behavioural consequences.
Not to worry though! There are a couple of steps we can do as dog parents to help prepare our pets for the ‘new normal’ and the four-month plan will also help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Spend Some Time Apart
One of the main steps is to start spending some time away from your dog, so they can gradually become comfortable when you are not around during the day. Whether this is going for a stroll, running some errands or spending some time in another room while they relax, it will help prepare them for when you start back at work and ease any overdependence they have over you. This can even be applied to playtime, by giving them a food filled toy or even setting a seek and search activity in the garden while you are inside.
Don’t own a food-filled toy? Not to worry, Betty & Butch have got you covered. Our Grrrelli Rubber Treat Balls are new in stock, they come in three sizes for all dog types and are highly durable. They are great to fill with yummy treats, snacks and pastes for longer play and are even excellent for teeth and gums.
For seek and search, check out our previous blog on Sprats. They are a small fish treat which makes them perfect to use for the seek and search game, and they even offer a wide range of health benefits for your pup.
Spending some time apart from your dog is especially important to puppies who have joined the family during lockdown because they have never seen a structured work-week before.
Our advice is to start small for all dogs, with several 30-minute sessions per day and then gradually build to at least 2 hours per day and make sure these sessions are within the similar hours you will be away from your beloved pet in the future.
Build A Routine
Dogs thrive on structure, it helps them understand rules and eases anxiety when they know when they are going to be fed, walked, when playtime, down-time and bedtime is.
The routine should be designed so it can continue when lockdown is lifted.
The same goes for when they are fed and all the other activities throughout the day. Downtime should be during the hours you will be working and this can be encouraged by giving them a new comfy bed to sleep on or a new toy they can gently chew.
Practice The Basics
The rule-of-six in outdoor settings are going to be reintroduced from March 29th and following this, the much anticipated beer gardens will return if everything goes well by the 12th of April, so we can enjoy a pint in the sunshine, yay!
Although we're not the only ones excited for this date, dog-friendly cafes and pubs will also open as long as they have an outdoor setting which means our furry friends can come join us!
More people will be out in public and the new sights, smells and distractions may get your dog a little bit too excited so it would be a good idea to brush up on settling and recall skills, as well as greeting people and loose lead walking in preparation. You can do this at home whilst there are less distractions or in the park. It’s important for your dog to know when and how to settle which will also help them cope when they are alone in the house.
If you’re planning on using a dog walker, a family member or friend to look after your darling doggo while you’re at work, practicing these skills would also be beneficial for this time as well. You may want to stay with them the first two times if they are over excited or even a little apprehensive to help them get used to the people that will be a bigger part of their lives in the future.
Lastly, Try Not to Worry! A Happy Parent Means Happy Pup
The lockdown being lifted can be daunting and concerning, especially when it is a substantial change for all of us. However, as dogs are able to pick up on subliminal messages, this worry can be reflected onto our pets and make them worry too.
So, stay positive! Working on these skills listed above will help provide a smooth transition for your dog and help with any behaviour issues and hopefully avoid separation anxiety altogether when lockdown is lifted. It’s easier to practice now than alter a significant problem in the future. If you’re not worrying about your pup, then they won’t worry either.
Remember to introduce changes to your dog’s life gradually and in a positive way with reward-based training. If you have any other concerns about separation anxiety and your dog’s mental health or behaviour, you can always seek professional advice from a qualified behaviourist.