We’re always looking ahead. And part of what we have seen during the pandemic is that so many animals are going to be subjected to more drastic changes right about the time that they have begun to settle into their new normal with all of us humans at home.
Prepping our pets for when we return to work
With so many of us at home now, our pets are our almost constant companions. But that could pose some challenges for them in the future
One positive side of the stay-at-home orders during this pandemic: pet adoptions are way up. A lot of people have just adopted their furry companions. They're called Quarantine Critters or Pandemic Pets.
While its great news that more dogs and cats are being adopted, it also means new pet owners have a responsibility to properly train their new companions before our lives become more normal, and many of us are back at work full-time.
Happy dogs chasing balls on their fourth walk of the day. Purring puffs of fluff who can't wait to snuggle with pet parents miraculously home all day. These are the images we may have of sheltering with our pets during the age of coronavirus.
"Honestly, when we do go back to work, they’re probably gonna suffer a little bit," Michele Rhoades with Mannered Mutts Dog Training said. Like many of us, Rhoades has been spending a lot of time at home lately with her dogs and cats. "I take pet ownership very seriously," Rhoades said.
"We have to remember that our dogs give us what we need. They give us the comfort when we’re down. They make us laugh. They're always there for us," Rhoades added.
With many of us are always there for our pets these days, dog trainers like Rhoades say there are things we can do now to prepare for those days in the future when we return to work and leave our dogs at home.
”One thing we can still do is go for a walk. We can still play with them and exercise their mind and bodies," Rhoades said.
"Try setting up a schedule would be my biggest recommendation right now because the dogs do best on a schedule. When they wake up, when they eat, when you exercise them, planning time so that they have alone time throughout the day.”
Train your dog to deal with separation. Most dogs will key in on a part of your routine that signals to them you will be leaving the house. Walk around your house and keep moving your keys from one location to the other. DO NOT create a routine of saying goodbye to your dog. Make sure your dog is in a puppy safe location in your house (a gated off room or a dog crate), walk out the door, stand outside for a few minutes and if the dog is quiet, walk back in. AGAIN ignore the dog. You do not want to create a big routine around you coming back home, as this only leads to more anxiety when you leave.
Take the time now to train the dog for basic husbandry skills like going to the groomer or the vet. Use some treats or some of your dog's meal as a reward. Lift up their paw and look at their nails, give them a treat. Play with your dog's tail, give them a treat. Open their mouth and look at their teeth, lift up their ears, basically get them used to being handled so that when you take them to the groomer or vet, it will be less stressful.
Socialize your dog. Yes, we are practicing social distancing, but the dog still needs to be socialized. Take them for a walk near the park where there are other people, children playing and other dogs. Reward the dog for not barking or pulling on the leash. If you are having trouble getting your dog's attention, move away from whatever is the trigger, and get the dog to focus on you.
If you normally travel with your dog, now is the time to get them used to the seat belt or crate in the vehicle. Load the dog up and take a short drive. The weather is not too hot or cold right now, so it is the ideal time to train the dog to go for rides.
Do some environmental enrichment activities. Go to a separate room in your house (I use my garage) and set up a cookie scavenger hunt. Most dogs love to use their noses; you can use treats or just some of their dog food placed in obvious locations at first. Then, you can build up the challenge by hiding in or behind objects, and in low or high places. I use the cardboard rolls from toilet paper stuffed with paper towels and treats. My dogs enjoy the hunt and love to shred the paper to get the treats.
Like our schools, positions at work, and our furry friends our lives have forever changed during this pandemic. The best that we can do now is be as prepared for the next round of shifts to our lives as possible. Ask Us XYZ is here for you during these changes and we are prepared for your next steps in business.
There are Facebook groups that are wonderful sources for environmental enrichment.
Check out 101 things to do with a box Here
Now is the time to start interviewing Doggie Daycare or Dog walkers. Many of these businesses have been temporarily closed, but you can still contact them by phone.
Check out some of the free online training courses provided by local dog trainers:
Denise Frenzi has free dog training articles on this website.
Hannah Brannigan has a podcast that focuses on raising a puppy in a pandemic Here