I think we can all agree that life as we knew it has already changed and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. So what does that mean for our dogs?
There are practical implications and energetic implications, both of which will impact on life with and for our dogs in the coming weeks and months. I’m going to talk about a couple of them here so you can start planning and taking action.
On walkies, you might want to escape other people and keep your distance without appearing rude while we’re embracing social distancing. We need the ‘yellow dog’ campaign for humans at the moment; if we’re wearing yellow, we need space. I’ve been campaigning for that for years! Anyway, if you see someone in the distance and you need to quick march away from them, your dog needs to know what’s going on. A ‘let’s go’ cue will help you immensely. It’s something I use as a management tool for reactive dogs by teaching them that ‘let’s go’ means ‘move this way with me now, don’t look back, awesome things are about to happen if you walk with me in the opposite direction!’ If you’d like my guide to training this, send me a message and it’s all yours.
Our dogs need exercise, but if we’re unwell we need an alternative. If you don’t have the option of support from friends, family or dog walkers, don’t worry, your dogs will be fine as long as they can go out to the loo or, in the short term, exercise in a new way indoors. I wrote a blog recently about ways to occupy your dog indoors which has some ideas for you. If you’re self-isolating and need more ideas, do get in touch and I’ll pass some along.
Working from home
As someone who loves nothing more than a day working from home, I can say with authority that routine is everything. Stick to your usual routine. If you’re self-isolating please keep the time you walk with your dog as dedicated activity time so they’re still exercising and using their brain.
At some point, you will be going back to your normal routine and we need to make sure that we’re not creating a challenge further down the line for our dogs. Make sure they have some alone-time, make sure they are happy by themselves during the day as well as enjoying some additional time with you.
If you have kids you’ll be spending much more time with them in the coming weeks. There might also be child-care arrangements that you’re a part of, so more kids may descend on your home.
This will affect your dog!
Please make sure that house rules apply at all times. Your dog has to have a safe space that they can retreat to, away from the children. When they’re in their safe space, they mustn’t be touched or disturbed; you can call them to you if you need them.
Having the cues you need to ask your dog to go to their bed or come to you will mean you can calm a situation before it escalates, communicate with your dog in a way they understand and reward them for a job well done.
By being kind and consistent, we will shift the feelings of fear towards feelings of kindness and that will help us to be a catalyst for positive change, which is exactly what the world needs right now.
Marie Yates is the director of local social enterprise, Canine Perspective CIC. If you’d like force-free, science-based, information on training with your dog, please visit us.