So here we find ourselves in this most awful situation of being confined to our homes for weeks ahead. I'm struggling with it as I'm sure a lot of you are, I am always out and am a social butterfly but right now I feel like I've had my wings clipped.
I am seriously concerned about our dogs wellbeing too. Yes we can joke that they're all elated because suddenly everyone is at home with them all the time but, my concern is that when this is all over in the coming months, how hard is it going to be for our dogs to get back to their normal routines?. That is what this blog is about, the possible resultant behaviour of lockdown could be dealing with your dog who develops separation anxiety.
The dogs' daily routines have been completely disrupted. They are only allowed to go for one walk a day. Which to be honest, mine are really not understanding. They are normally taken out first thing for a little stroll around the park before I start work, they have at least one big walk or on some days two at lunchtime and then a smaller walk again later in the day. Suddenly I'm confronted with confused faces standing on the doormat first thing as they can't understand why we are not going to the park as usual. Sadly, they will not go for a walk with Mr Furry if I am at home which really doesn't help! Of course, if there's more than one of you in the house, each member of the family could take the dog for a walk as part of their allotted exercise time but again, that's not part of the dog's normal routine.
So how can we try and prevent them from suffering in the next few months? Try if you can to keep to a daily routine as close to normal as possible. For me, I've been getting up at the same time as I would if I was working, giving the dogs their breakfast at the same time. If I am doing some gardening or housework, I've been shutting them in the kitchen where they would normally be while I was out or working so that in their minds, it is business as usual. Let them have their usual daily naps if you can and try not to interrupt them. When you do take them out, if it's only once a day, take them for an extra long walk and let them have some off-lead time, time to sniff, to run and to play.
If your dogs normally go out with a Dog Walker, they'll be missing the interaction from their other doggie friends so try and play some games with them at home so they get some mental stimulation. A good game of tuggy in the garden, hide the treat and some brain training games will all be good forms of enrichment but I'll cover more about this in future blogs.
My concern is that your dogs really don't understand all that is going on and there may well be some resultant behaviour issues coming out of this that will be born out of frustration. It is going to be so hard for them to go from having everyone in the family at home with them all day to suddenly being left for hours on end when we all go back to work and school. I would hate to see dogs ending up in rescue centres in a few months' time because owners cannot cope with their developed behaviours as a result of all this.
Remember dogs need rules and routines and a tired dog is a happy dog.
Stay safe and well everyone and let's get through this together.