Virus Survival with your dog! Pandemic Do’s and Don’ts!

What a f*cking week. Possibly the longest week in the history of weeks (for us in our lifetime anyway)

So the UK government locked down the country on Monday night and we were told to stay inside. We are only allowed to venture out if we are a key worker, for exercise once a day, for food shop/medical supplies and to help a velnerable family member. Of course because we were told to stay in, the sun decided to shine and folk I’ve never seen in my life started wandering round and deciding that now was the perfect time to take up hiking, cycling and walking their dogs. In fact a daft amateur photographer had to be rescued from a steep and rocky Welsh mountain on Monday after getting stuck while taking pictures of the sunrise. He was dressed in jeans and trainers and just a bag for his camera equipment (massive, massive face palm). Not only was he endangering his own life, but the lives of the mountain rescue who had to haul his arse down. And he risked the spread of a disease that none of us were ready for.

What. A. Dick.

Like many of you out there, my emotions have been on a crazy rollercoaster ride and I’ve gone from utter despair to being optimistic that we will all learn valuable lessons from all this.

I also try to see it as the gift of TIME. Yeah I may not have any money coming in and my bills are likely to not be paid in the next few months, but I am home with nothing much to do. How often does that happen? When we take time off work we usually cram it full of shit to do, like holidays, days out, seeing family, clearing out spare rooms etc and we keep busy to make the most of not being busy at work! How mad is that?? However now……… we cannot travel. We can not go to the pub. We cannot see family. We are home. And our dogs are fricking rejoicing!!

I’m half convinced that this was all a ploy by our dogs to get the humans home. And maybe they’d teamed up with Disney Plus which just happened to launch on Day 1 of lockdown!!

We’ve been forced home to work and our dogs bloody love it! This isn’t me by the way, she looks far too nice and has a tidy house!

You may still be working from home but you will save bags of time by not commuting, not having the mad morning dash to get the kids ready for school and not bothering to get the smart clothes on (yeah I know you like to wear the dressing gown at home! I’m sat in my comfy apartment pants as I write this…… What of it??)

So what can we do with all this extra time? We can sloooow down and reconnect with our partners/kids/dogs/other pets. Modern life is so crazy and we feel pressured to fill it with shit. Why not do fun stuff instead?

What to do and what not to do with your dog!

Lets start with what to do….

  • DO still go out for walks. We are allowed one outing for exercise in your local area and we can definitely make the most of it! Even if you have a young dog or old dog who can’t walk far, they will still benefit hugely from a potter out to smell the world. Puppies especially NEED to go out to see, smell, hear and touch the world so that when isolation is over, they won’t freak out on a walk (more on that in a future blog) It will also be very good for your own mental health!
  • DO make use of your kongs/treat dispensers/brain games. Dogs still need lots of mental stimulation too and nothing tires them out more than having to use their noggin to work something out. As I write this, all of my dogs are flat out asleep after having their breakfast out of their kongs. They haven’t been walked yet!
  • DO keep up with your normal routine as much as is possible in this situation. Where do you put your dogs when you go out to work? Do you pop them in the crate with a kong or similar? Try to do that on your ‘work days’ and feed them roughly the same time, get up at the same times etc. Obviously if you’re in a teeny house like I am, you will struggle. My desk is in the living room so when I’m working, the dogs are there with me and Thea is around either watching TV or playing with her toys. However I do try to leave them alone in the kitchen when I go upstairs. The last thing I want is for them to develop separation anxiety when I finally go back to work!
  • DO train your dogs separatly if you have a multi dog household. They’ll benefit from the 1-2-1 time and learn so much more than if you tried to train multiple dogs at once! Figure out what your dog’s strengths are and work with it. Do you have a spaniel who loves sniffing? A collie who loves chasing? Harness their innate behaviours and use it for good!
  • DO groom your dog and do mini training sessions throughout the day. Teach them something new, work on the stuff you already know and play games! Why not join my Born 2 Run Boredom Busters Group to give you ideas on games to play and training you can do?
  • DON’T over feed your dogs. While we’re in lockdown, none of us are moving as much as we did before (unless you’re super enthusiasic about all the online fitness classes now available!) and your dog is the same. Reduce your dogs food and use part of it as training treats. We don’t want an obese dog epidemic after all this is over!
  • DON’T feel like you have to chuck the ball excessively on your walks in an attempt to tire the dog out on your one walk. You will do more harm than good and you’ll ramp up the dogs stress and adrenaline (check out the blog I did on the hazards of excessive ball throwing here) You’re better off letting your dog sniff. Why not take a portion of their food out with you and try scatter feeding in the grass? Or playing’find it’ with their favourite toy? Remember that a 20 minute brain work out is equivelant to an hours physical workout!!
  • DON’T train your dogs if you’re feel overly stressed or having a meltdown over this shitty situation. No one learns when stress is involved, it will just lead to frustration and more feelings of despair. Felt it myself this last week and all it does is corrode your relationships with your dogs (and kids!) Instead just opt for a cuddle on the sofa. Having a day of doing nothing is fine, for your dogs and for you!
  • DON’T neglect your mental health. This ties in with the one above. Even if you have work to do and the kids have school work, if you’re feeling stressed, if you’re scared, worried and feel defeated…… just sit, watch shit on tv, cuddle your dogs, go out in the garden, breathe, hug your family and try to smile, even if it’s forced. Your moods will have a detrimental effect on your dogs and they will be suffering too. They are so in tune with us, they can smell our emotions and they feel what we feel to some degree. We don’t want a mental health crisis after all this either!

It’s a shitty time which none of us were really prepared for but lets try and make the most of it. Training your dog will help both of you stay sane and you’ll develop a much better bond.

Stay safe out there folks and I hope to see you inside my Born 2 Run Boredom Busters Group!

Tam and Thea xxx

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