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Advice on self-isolating with your dog

By Kate Bendix 13 days ago 847 Views

What to do if you’re self-isolating with your dog

Whether you’re self-isolating or on full lockdown, if you have dogs their routine will be off kilter too.

So many questions will be going through those furry little heads: Why are you home? Why are you stuck to your screen and not playing with me, and why, for the love of all that’s holy, are you taking up valuable sofa space? It’s just not the way things are done around here. So how do we all get through this unscathed? What is the new normal when you have dogs and you’re in the grip of a pandemic?

Well, as I’m self-isolating with three dogs ranging from one to sixteen years old, the challenges are real. So, I did all the research, so you don’t have to.

Read on, lovelies.

Dogs have the same challenges as we do.

While we’re on lockdown our dogs have the same issues as we do. How to do we: keep fit, eat right, not slob on the couch all day (hmmm…) get enough exercise, and stay mentally healthy? Keeping their routine as normal as possible is the way forward.

So, eyes down look in for a full house. (Bingo reference for anyone under 35).

Keeping fit

You can still get out of the house in fact you should get out if you can. If you’re not vulnerable, super ancient (no disrespect, it’s what I call my mum) and keep your wits about you there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Keep your two-metre distance from everyone and go someplace quiet if you can.

Top tip:

Consider the dogs, yours and others, when out walking. I’d keep them on a lead and a good two metres from other dogs if you can. Don’t touch other dogs in case people who may be infected have. If a dog comes up to me, I keep my distance from their owner and shout across to get their dogs back. If you can walk them early or late in the day, and somewhere as quiet as possible.

Eating right

There’s no reason to stop feeding them their normal diet or stockpiling it. Ordering online is your best bet, often from the producer themselves as they have plenty of stock. Natural Instinct are still up and running with plenty of food and treats. So, if you find yourself stranded at home, order online.

I would leave extra time for delivery though, and please don’t stockpile, then everyone can get fed.

Exercise

It’s all about enrichment and engaging their brain.

Get out of the house if you’re allowed. Otherwise, it’s a case of building play and fun into your indoor routine. For you, try a free exercise app. I like the ones which use your own bodyweight to get fit (I have plenty) with no need for fancy, expensive kit.

For the dogs there’s plenty to do and it shouldn’t cost you a bean. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, or some outside space let them out there.

Scent work

Because your dog knows all the smells indoors and out try scent work. There’s plenty of stuff on YouTube to learn from but basically you put a tiny treat somewhere they can’t see it and they have to find it. You have to start from the very basics, though but it shouldn’t take long if you have an engaged dog.

Obstacle courses

I did this when Nikita needed physio. Depending on the size of your dog get two cans of beans, whatever is a suitable height and rest a carboard tube or broom handle over the top to make a little hurdle. With your dog on one side and you on the other hold out a treat. They get the treat if they cross the hurdle, they can walk over it, no need to jump. If they walk around the hurdle, they get nothing. They’ll cotton on soon enough.

Only play a game or teach then a new trick for as long as they’re engaged with it. Once they wander off or don’t show any interest they’ve had enough. Come back tomorrow.

IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING FOOD AND TREATS

So everyone doesn’t end up the size of a house food and treats should be regarded as part of their whole daily ration. If you use 25g of treats for example, make sure to take it off their daily food intake. That 25g could be the equivalent of seven digestive biscuits to many dogs.

As for you, try to limit your digestives/gin/pizza ingestion to one a day? Maybe?

Other games to play to try:

  • Fetch
  • Tug
  • Filling treat dispensing balls*
  • Using food puzzle toys

*Try stuffing a treat dispensing ball with Natural Instinct chicken hearts or liver treats. Make them work for their food.

Rest and sleep

Sleep is really important to your dog. Some say they need to spend far longer sleeping because they never really get a lot of the REM sleep, we do. They’re always alert on some level. Remember too they have their own routine when you’re not around, so play, have fun, but get rest and sleep too. You have to get on with your normal day as much as possible and so do they.

Mental health

Dogs are fantastic for keeping us sane. We know walking and playing with our dogs reduces anxiety, and with all the corona virus news on 24/7 we all need a break from it. For your dog, all the above will do the trick and they’ll get great comfort from having you around a bit (or a lot) more.

So, take a breather, notice the small things, and stroke your dog. Remember too if you’re working from home to get a routine and stick to it. The only difference is you don’t have the commute and you can work in your pants! Though, as someone whose worked at home for ten years I’d get showered and dressed, and plan your meals, it really does make a difference, and your dog will thank you for it.

Wash your hands and stay safe. Good luck to us all!

Posted in: General Advice
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