I know this is a tough time, and spending extra time with your dog is one of the very few positives to come out of this situation, but please, step away from the dog!
At some point in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future, we’ll be allowed out again. When that happens, you have to make sure the world doesn’t come crashing down around your dog.
I say this as someone who is based at home and has a set routine for her canine co-worker. That routine has continued throughout this lockdown extravaganza and I’ll be honest, I think he continues to be grateful for the time out.
Keep your routine as close to normal
What was your usual routine, if you can remember ‘life before’ and what routine will you return to?
What is happening at the moment?
If the answers are completely different for your dog then it’s time to start implementing a new structure.
This will do you good too. Structure and routine, while they’re not words that usually conjure up excitement, are going to help you get through this.
Create a routine as close to your ‘normal’ as you can. That has to include some time out for your dog somewhere that they’re used to having solo-time. While they might have the run of the house when you’re out, they’re not used to you being on ‘their’ sofa during working, shopping or socialising hours. If the kitchen is ‘their zone’ during solo hours, they need time in it without you raiding the fridge, making your 40th cuppa of the hour and wondering out loud how long it has been since you cleaned the windows. (If you can still see through them, you’re fine! )
This theory still stands if your dog is snoozing next to you while you’re working. It might not look like they’re bothered whether you’re there or not, but if you will have to return to the world of brushing your hair and getting out of your PJs soon, step away from the dog.
Remember it’s not your dog’s responsibility to make you feel better
It’s not your dog’s responsibility to make you feel better! Yes, your dog loves you. Every dog is a ‘therapy dog’. Our dogs change our lives. All true, however, it is absolutely not their responsibility to make us feel better. We invited them into our world and it is our responsibility to make their lives better.
At the heart of that responsibility is ensuring their welfare comes first and that they aren’t adversely affected by this situation. By making a seamless transition from you being at home to you returning to your routine, you are putting their welfare first.
Working on separation challenges is hard work for families; really hard work. Please don’t risk putting yourselves and your dog through that.
That said, if your dog was experiencing challenges with separation before this, now is the perfect time to work on it, so you’re ready to return to the great outdoors when this is over. Get in touch and I’ll talk you through ways I can help.
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 click here.