Preparing Your Dog for Life After COVID-19
Our four-legged friends have been reaping the benefits of our extra time at home including more walks, more play time, more cuddle time and just having someone home all the time. In turn, they’ve been an enormous source of comfort during this unprecedented time.
Part of being a responsible pet owner is preparing your dog for what comes next when we inevitably go back to work or school and go back to the ‘new’ normal. Our pets must once again adjust to being home by themselves for many hours of the day. This is true of pets who have been part of the family for many years, as well as those who have only recently come into our lives.
Here are some tips on preparing your dog for life after COVID-19 to prevent your dog from feeling confused after you head back to a regular routine.
Stick to a routine
Just like us, dogs are creatures of habit. Create a routine that includes enrichment, rest, exercise and alone time during the day, putting aside time to head out of the house without them if you can.
Let them sleep
Dogs’ sleep patterns vary according to their age, activity levels, health and individual characteristics. Most dogs sleep for an average of 10-14 hours a day (which basically puts them on par with their human’s self-isolation patterns), while puppies sleep more. If you spot them catching some shut eye, let them rest and only ask them to play with you once they’ve woken up on their own.
There is such a thing as too many walks
Most dogs need 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, depending on health status; some may need more and some less. Even though we’re all tempted to take our dogs out for extra walks at the moment, please exercise your dog within their own capabilities and keep to an exercise routine that you are able to keep up once you return to work or study.
Encourage your dog to play with their toys
Make your dog toys more interesting by smearing dog-safe foods on them, such as peanut butter or canned dog food. Start rotating the toys frequently too, rather than leaving them lying around. If you collect and clean a toy once your dog is finished with it, and then place it away in a toy box, it will greatly increase the novelty value next time it comes out.
If you’re still not having much success, try different types of toys like rope toys, Kongs, balls, squeaky toys, soft toys, etc.
Invest time into training
Now is a great time to invest in some reward-based training and education. This can be done at home, as many professional dog trainers have online resources and classes you can take advantage of. However, make sure that you only use trainers who use exclusively reward-based training methods and never aversive techniques or equipment.
Revisit the basics such as sit, come, drop, stay or move to more advanced training such as nose works.
As life gets back to normal, you could look at other ways to involve your dog in your day-to-day life.
Bring your dog along to outings where possible, like picking the kids up from school or going through a drive-thru. You could also hire Tails on Trails, an Odenton dog walking company, to take your dog on a daily dog walk to help break up the day.
With the right planning and preparing your dog for life after COVID-19, your dog should be able to adjust to the ‘new’ routine.