Dogs Trust releases roadmap out of lockdown
With governments releasing their roadmaps and a path to lift us out of lockdown in the coming months, Dogs Trust is urging dog owners not to forget their canine companions and has released a roadmap for rovers to help them adjust as normality resumes.
Behaviour problems are easier to prevent than treat, so the charity is encouraging owners to take steps now to change the tale for their dogs and ensure problems don’t develop as lockdown opens up. Here’s how the path out of lockdown could affect dogs:
Outdoor gatherings of people or households
As people start to get outside with friends and family, dogs may struggle with the additional sights, smells and distractions they may not have experienced for a while. So it’s worth brushing up on your dog’s recall skills, loose lead walking, greeting people and picnic etiquette!
Outdoor settings like beer gardens open
If taking your dog to the nearest dog-friendly pub is on the agenda, it’s important that we teach our dogs how to settle amongst the hustle and bustle. Start now at home whilst there’s fewer distractions. Teaching them how to settle will also come in handy when you stop to chat to friends when out and about, there are children running around or other dogs walking past, as well as helping them cope when alone.
Household mixing indoors
Your dog is going to start to see much more than the delivery man! Lots of dogs get nervous and/or excited when they hear the sound of the doorbell and this can make it difficult to welcome guests into your home.
To make things easier and safer, you can train your dog for visitors and teach them to run to a safe space like their bed when they hear the doorbell, and quietly wait there until your visitors are settled.
All restrictions lifted with many people returning to the office
It’s likely many of us who have been working from home will start to return to the office at this point. So it’s important that we teach our dogs to cope with being left alone to prevent separation anxiety developing, as many of them will have had very little contact away from us for the past year.
Rachel Casey, Director of Canine Behaviour and Research, said: “It’s safe to say life has not been normal for many of our dogs for the majority of the past year. They’ve had less interactions with other dogs, fewer visitors coming into the home and they haven’t spent much time alone since the pandemic began.
“Roadmap announcements have us all longing for a great British summer where we can walk our dogs with our friends’ dogs, have family round for garden barbecues and take our pooches to the pub or café, and of course, we need our four-legged friends to be able to cope with all of that. A return to normal could be confusing for our dogs, especially puppies acquired during the pandemic who won’t have had these early life experiences. But the good news is, it’s not too late to prepare your dog for lockdown easing, and to teach them vital skills that they can apply in any situation.”
One of the biggest reasons why dogs are handed into Dogs Trust is because of behaviour-related issues that could have been prevented early on. A rise in problematic behaviours, due to lockdown measures, could mean families have no other option but to give up their dog. The rise in separation anxiety in dogs who haven’t been left alone during the pandemic is a particular concern for the charity. Rachel continued: “A big worry for us is what the long-term impact of lockdown will have on dogs’ ability to cope when left home alone. It is much easier to prevent problems than treat them, and we would urge people to visit our Dog School classes or look at our advice and videos on our website to help prevent these problem behaviours from developing.”
To help dog owners prepare their dogs for a change in routine, Dogs Trust’s Dog School is continuing to run training classes online while face-to-face classes have to be paused, meaning dogs and their owners can still learn through virtual classes to equip themselves with skills they can put into practise as normality resumes. The classes help owners understand their dog’s behaviour to avoid common pitfalls that can lead to problems further down the line.
For more info or to book your dog onto a virtual set of training classes, visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/dogschool. Online training videos can be found www.dogstrust.org.uk/changethetale/advice .