We may all be disturbed and at least a little distressed by the thought of being confined to our homes for what might be several weeks or more because of the precautions being taken to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Our dogs on the other hand? They're pretty excited. All the humans home at once, all day? It must feel like Pup Christmas to them.
I urge all pet parents who suddenly have unlimited time with their best friend to take advantage of it, but also to be aware of the challenges this change presents during this pandemic breakout.
There are some things to keep in mind, however, if a playful pup is a part of your self-isolating household to help ensure that everyone, humans and dogs, stay as safe, happy and healthy as possible. Here are our top tips for surviving the lock-down with your pet dog.
1. Prepare for lots of energy
Many pups who are alone at home during the day when their humans are at work and/or school spend a lot of their time sleeping, often because they have nothing else to do.
With the family home however, that's likely to change.
Most pups will be up for some extra playtime, which while we're sure you'd like to join in, most of us still have work and study to do from home and won't be able to drop everything to do so.
This means that you should ensure that your pup has something to occupy him while you are busy elsewhere. If they already like to play and soothe themselves with toys treating them to a new one is a great idea, preferably one that offers a challenge to keep their mind occupied.
Toys like the Outward Hound's Hide-A-Squirrel ( see below) offer a great challenge and are very cute to boot, with the advantage that once your pup has found all the hidden squirrels in the plush tree trunk they can take one to use as a comfort toy while they nap!
Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel
- Entertaining and interactive puzzle plush dog toy
- Provides both mental exercise and enrichment
- Junior, Large & Jumbo sizes include 3 squirrels.
2. Don't let doggy rule the roost
The one thing you shouldn't do is allow your pup to become too demanding of attention. It's a bad habit for them to get into and it will make your days unproductive and frustrating too.
A little extra attention is fine - and comforting for us humans too in what are very uncertain times - but if your pup starts whining, barking, or pawing to get - or keep - your attention then the behavior must be discouraged.
3. Don't skimp on exercise
Unless you are under stricter quarantine because you are sick you should not skip or skimp on your pup's walks and exercise times. For walk times the early morning is a great choice.
Fewer people will be around, and it will serve as a great way for you to start your day too, as getting enough exercise while mainly confined to the house is very important for humans too.
If your pup is used to going to a crowded dog park that's really out of the question right now. But the early morning and evening are great times to hit the local green spots or even just take a walk around the block. Just remember that it's more important than ever that you clean up after him while also keeping yourself as germ free as possible.
One great way to do that is by making use of a gadget like the Balhvit Long Handle Portable Pet Pooper Scooper. This clever scooper is lightweight - so it's easy to carry on walks - and has a long handle so you won't have to bend down. Waste is captured in an easy to affix waste bag and the scooper empties right into the trash without you ever having to touch a thing.
If you're concerned about your pet dog bringing in unwanted germs and other bacteria from walking outside, consider getting dog booties that he/she can wear and leave outside your porch.
4. Don't get heavy handed with the treats
If you are home a lot more, your pup is probably going to pester you for treats a lot more. Even if he is very used to his regular treat schedule, and would never normally do that, his schedule is all messed up now too. So he will ask, just don't give in.
It's tempting to give extra food treats right now - to the dog, the kids and maybe even yourself - but it's a bad idea for everyone.
If they do not have one already a treat dispensing puzzle toy might be a great buy. Even if your pup is an aggressive chewer a tough toy like the Kong Wobbler Treat Toy will challenge him while regulating his treat intake so that he does not feel the need to come to you to try to get you to part with more (hopefully).
- Durable, pear-shaped dog toy with a hollow interior and an access hole for filling with kibble/treats
- Entertaining wobble action which also slows down fast-eating
- Available in sizes small and large
5. Practice really good hygiene
For most of us self-isolation - or whatever you prefer to call it - still means going out to stores to buy groceries, checking on elderly relatives and friends (carefully) and we are all now very aware of the importance of hand washing and good hygiene when we do.
But you should be practicing it more diligently at home too.
Make sure you wash your hands after a puppy petting session and that children in the home do that too. The same is true of when you feed them. You could even consider purchasing dog paw sanitizing wipes for use after walks, to help make sure your pup has clean 'hands' too.
6. Understand your pup is confused too
These are really confusing times, and most of us have never been through something like this before. Lots of us are stressed out and upset not just because of the virus itself but about the long term impact it will have on employment, our finances and our relationships.
Your pup will pick up on all of that, and even though he does not understand viruses and economics will pick up on your stress and it will affect him too. Just like it does when people argue around him. So he may act out, and bad behaviors like chewing may be the result, or even the kind of depression that affects humans instead.
While it's not easy to stay endlessly positive right now, giving it your very best shot is best for you all. If the posts on social media upset you, stay away for a while. Call or text your friends instead. And you really don't have to watch the news that often either, just occasionally to stay informed.
Instead, gather everyone, pup included, and watch some really fun on Netflix. Or play a board game. Or a video game. Or toss a toy with your pup. None of this is an ideal situation and one we all hope changes soon. But for now try to enjoy the extra time you now unexpectedly have with those you love, including your four-legged, furry canine family members.