Wow how lucky must our dogs be feeling right now? It’s good to know at least someone is benefiting from this incredibly strange time…
The COVID-19 pandemic is a very unique situation for all of us to be in. As we are increasingly needing to spend more time at home, it means we get to spend more time with our dogs. I’m sure some of your dogs must be feeling like they’ve hit the jackpot! Both us and our dogs have the potential to benefit from spending more time together. Even though most of our dogs are probably very happy about this, we must also be mindful that some might be a little uneasy or stressed out if it now means young kids are home 24/7. We also need to realise that this isn’t going to last forever, and we will eventually return to work, school, life before COVID-19 hit, and unfortunately this might be a hard adjustment for some of our dogs. So in today’s article, I will share some ideas of fun things you can do with your dog during the pandemic, ways to manage having you and your kids home all the time and I will also share some tips to help prepare your dogs to successfully adjust when life returns to normal.
The positive impact being home with our dogs has on us and our relationship with them
Let’s start with the good stuff… For those with dogs, how lucky are we to have the extra company right now. Especially for those living on their own. I’m sure that being in the company of your dog will help with the feeling of being lonely/isolated. They will also help to motivate you to get up and out for a walk once or twice a day. Being home with our dogs can also help to reduce stress and anxiety in times like these. This precious time will also build and strengthen your bond with your dog.
What does this mean for our dogs when life goes back to “normal”
Once this is all over, we will be getting back into our old work and social routines, kids will be back at school and of course this will be great for our mental health. Yet when life returns to normal, we must keep in mind that some dogs may find it a challenging time and struggle with the change. Unfortunately our dogs may start to show behavioural signs of separation-related distress, things like whining, barking, digging, scratching, destructive behaviours, etc when left home alone. It is important that we really do enjoy this time with our dogs but that we also prepare them to adjust successfully once it’s all over.
For those with Young Kids home all day
We should keep in mind that with schools closed and families encouraged to stay home, many dogs are spending looooong days with our kids also. Yes, this can be a positive experience for both our kids and our dogs, but it can also be very stressful for some dogs. So, as parents and dog owners, we must be mindful of keeping everyone safe during this time. Dogs need to have a quiet space where they can escape when they need a break. We also must teach our kids to be respectful and as always, keep their distance whenever your dog is sleeping or eating. If you need to use baby gates or close doors, do it, don’t be afraid to create some boundaries. Your dog will thank you for it. As always, never leave your kids alone unsupervised with your dog. While no one likes to think that their dog would ever bite, the reality is that any dog could bite when scared, stressed, or in pain. So it is our job to protect our kids and our dogs. Learning to understand your dog’s body language during this time is so important.
For more info on child and dog safety and how dogs communicate make sure to have a read of these articles:
- How Dogs Communicate
- Three steps to Teach your child how to safely say hello to dogs
- Teach your child to interact safely with dogs and know the warning signs to look for
- Five Important Skills to teach your Dog when Around Young Children
- Lead by example to show your child how to interact safely with dogs
- Managing your Dog when having Visitors and Children Coming Over
Tips to help manage being home with our dogs 24/7 and to help make their adjustment to life post COVID-19 easier
- Stick to your Routine: dogs love routine. Where possible, try to stick to your regular feeding times, walk times, etc. This might seem silly, but for those dogs who thrive off structure and have owners who are usually out of the house all day, it might be a good idea to continue doing the things you would normally do on a workday morning. Like putting on your shoes, picking up your keys and leaving the house for a bit. To ensure your departure goes smoothly, you could even start to associate you leaving with a special treat. Every morning when we leave to take the kids to school, I leave Cooper with a kong wobbler with his breakfast in it. This way he has learnt to associate us leaving with something positive.
- Make sure your dog has a safe space and some time away from young children: before COVID-19, your dog was most likely used to having quiet time every day to sleep and be on their own. So make sure they still have this, even if they don’t choose to use it. We have a doggy door at home so Cooper can go outside whenever he likes. If this is not an option for you, you could use a crate if your dog is crate trained or just set up a nice comfy bed in a separate room where they can escape the chaos of the rest of the house. This is especially important if you have young kids at home. Occasionally, try to get your dog out for a walk without your kids. It will be nice for both you and your dog.
- Leave the house once a day without your dog: as dog owners, we can increase the likelihood of a smooth transition back to old routines once this is all over by giving our dogs some alone time each day. Go to the supermarket without them, go on the occasional walk without them. They also might enjoy a little bit of quiet time without anyone home (especially for those with young kids).
- Try not to get angry at your dog: being around each other 24/7 you may also discover some annoying behaviours that your dog does that you don’t like or that is annoying when you’re trying to work. Like barking at every passer-by or pawing at your leg for attention. Stay positive and get professional help if you need. There are plenty of certified trainers who are doing online consults if you need.
- Enjoy this extra special time with your dog: Being home more, means more time for play, more time for walks, more time for training, more time for puzzle toys. So just enjoy it! Click here to read my article for some fun things you can do with your dog during this time.
We are so lucky to have our dogs with us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, spending all this time at home with them will impact our relationship. It will help strengthen them and provide great company for both of us. However, we also need to give our dogs opportunities to get away from the increased activity and time we have with them. This situation will be short-lived, so it is important that we prepare our dogs to adjust successfully when life returns to normal. Let’s enjoy this time with our dogs whilst also being smart about it.
As always, if you have any questions, please get in touch.
Stay safe and healthy.