These are unprecedented times, but have you recently considered that the Covid-19 lockdown might be impacting your dog? Children are not at school. Millions of people are either working from home or furloughed. The balance of family life has been disrupted and it inevitably follows that your dog will be tuned in to these changes. This will affect your dog’s behaviour and anxiety levels.
It’s difficult for us to know exactly what a dog feels or thinks, so we rely on the observations and research from scientists to give us insight. A 2012 study by Emory University in Atlanta found that a dog’s brain is similar to the human brain in that dogs can suffer from anxiety and depression in the same way that we do.
We know that dogs are creatures of habit…
Any deviation from a normal routine may be quite distressing initially, even if that means spending more time with loved ones. It won’t take tremendously long for your dog to get used to the new ‘normal’, but that might mean that you are going on less walks due to quarantine measures.
Dogs obviously have no idea what is actually going on with coronavirus, but they can surely sense that emotions are running high. Of course, dogs will respond how dogs always do. They adapt to our schedules and they tune in to our emotions.
We cannot afford to underestimate the way in which this virus, so worrying for us humans, might be affecting our dogs.
Dogs usually suffer most from separation anxiety when humans leave them alone for long periods of time. One thing to watch out for is preparing your dog for post-lockdown. They’ve been so used to you being around, you’ll have to be mindful that they are now reliant on that as part of their routine. We will discuss this in more detail in another blog.
So, how is your dog coping with lockdown? We have set out a few things below that might help you to make life a little bit easier for your dog during this very difficult time.
Give them a safe space
During a bad storm or on firework night we always take measures to protect our dogs and cats from the flashing lights and thunderous noises. We do this by keeping our pets indoors and providing them with a quiet space away from the hubbub. We also take their minds off what is essentially a difficult time for them. In some respects, the lockdown is similar in that it disturbs your dog’s normal routine.
For example, there are probably a number of people in the household all the time and home working can create a completely different scenario for your dog which it may find distressing. Make sure that in all the noise and business around the home, your dog has a quiet place to go to.
Help them get enough sleep
Most adult dogs need between 12 to 16 hours sleep each day and lockdown could interfere with that. With more people working from home every day and other members of your household in lockdown means that there is probably more activity and more noise.
This will affect your dog’s routine. Again, make sure your dog has a quiet place to catch up with some much needed Zzzs.
Maintain your dog walking routine
All dogs need daily exercise and because their primary sense is their superb olfactory ability, they get enormous enjoyment by being outside in the open taking in all the different smells. Ensure that your dog continues to get the exercise it needs by maintaining your normal dog walking routine.
Try going out at different times to mix it up a bit. Obviously, if you have a large garden and the weather is good, let your dog spend as much time as possible out of doors.
Stimulate them mentally
Dogs are social animals and need to be with us and to interact with us and as much as possible. With this in mind, play with your dog as much as you can. If the weather is suitable, use your garden to hide a number of treats and let your dog sniff them out.
Most of us have never experienced anything like coronavirus and lockdown in our lifetime but it can and will also affect our dogs.
Keep this in mind and look out for any unusual behaviour. If your dog is showing signs of lethargy, depression or other unusual behaviour, remember to always consult a professional.