Written by: Jocelyn Walls, CTC, CPDT
We’re all adjusting to life in quarantine. Our routines are changing. Many of us are now home an unprecedented amount. We’re not seeing friends, going on hikes or popping over to say hi at the local pet store. Your dog may be feeling these change pains, too. Here’s our expert advice on how to keep your pup happy and to prevent bad habits in times like this.
1. Take Treats on Walks!
Dogs get so much out of their walks! They get exercise, scent enrichment, pee mail and social time with neighborhood dogs. Social distancing practices has led to a drop off in dog greetings which may frustrate your gregarious pet. Try taking treats on your next walk and make it a mini training session! This is a perfect time to train your dog to shift their focus onto you, especially when they see their dog friends across the street. This not only reduces frustration and the chance for reactivity but also builds good manners and leash skills!
2. Manufacture “Me Time”
Preventing or Treating Separation Anxiety:
Most of our dogs are just over the moon about us being home with them 24/7! This is a pup’s dream come true. What could be better than hanging out with their human all day, every day? Unfortunately, no one told the dog that we’re all keeping our fingers crossed for a return to normal schedules and hoping for the day when we can leave the house regularly again. Make sure your dog doesn’t get TOO used to you always being around and available. Remember to periodically leave your dog home alone, even if it’s just for a quick solo-walk around the block or to pick up take out. Leave your dog with something yummy to keep them happy and occupied while you’re gone. Also, using your dog’s crate to create separation during the day, even when you’re home, is a great way to prevent hyper-bonding. We love spending time with our pups but we don’t want to overdo it to their detriment.
3. Rover May Need a Rest
You Might Actually be Cramping Your Dog’s Style!
Dogs, especially adult dogs, sleep a ton during the day. When we’re out at work, they’re snoozing, relaxing, napping and lounging. Kids running around, work calls and zoom meetings all day can be a disruption to your dog’s normal sleep cycles. Make sure your dog has a comfy, quiet retreat space to go when they’re tired or over playing dress up with the kids for the 11th time this week. A crate serves as a safe spot and can even be covered with a blanket to create an extra cozy feel. Make sure everyone in the house knows to leave the sleeping dog alone, especially if you have children in the home.
4. A Bored Dog is a Naughty Dog
Give Your Dog Stuff to Do!
Is your dog under the impression that since you are home, you are therefore available for unlimited pet-pets, fetch, tummy rubs, treat time and kisses? Or have you discovered a nasty barking habit? Don’t get frustrated, reach for enrichment! Stuffed Kongs, meaty bones, bully sticks, puzzle toys and homemade enrichment are great ways to keep an active or attention-seeking dog busy. The best part is that your pup will need a nap after all that brain work!
5. Treat & Train!
Train Them to do Something New!
Reward-based training is a great way to provide your dog with mental stimulation and to build the best bond with them. If your dog knows the basics try teaching some tricks! Does she know how to rollover? Pick up her toys? Do a handstand?!? Many professional trainers are available for online sessions to tackle the long-put-off behavior issue or for online group classes to go over the basics.
Jocelyn Walls is a dog trainer at Muttineer in Los Angeles