Following latest Government announcements, the charity releases top tips for owners to help their dogs adapt to the “new normal”
Dogs Trust, the UK’s leading dog welfare charity, is advising owners on how to help their dog adjust to life as lockdown restrictions ease – from how to cope with being left at home alone to preventing nervousness around visitors.
For most dog owners, lockdown has meant spending more quality time with their four-legged friends. Just like us, dogs will need to readjust as restrictions ease but some dogs may find it hard to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and will need a helping hand.
The charity has come up with a quick and handy guide of important tips to refresh any training dogs may have forgotten during lockdown!
Dog owners can access training videos, owner handbooks and more by visiting the dedicated page on the Dogs Trust website. Top tips include:
Leaving your dog home alone
• Make sure your dog has a comfy bed or den, where they can relax in peace.
• Give them something fun to occupy them when they are alone, such as a long-lasting treat or puzzle toy.
• Get them to start spending more time in a different room to you as part of their daily routine.
• Slowly build up the time they are left at home alone.
Having guests over to your home
• Teach your dog to behave calmly when they hear the doorbell by ignoring a strong reaction and rewarding them with a treat when they are quiet.
• Ensure your dog has their own safe space to retreat to when you have visitors, remembering that they can find excitable human noises worrying (as, no doubt, you’ll be excited to see your friends and family after lockdown).
• Make sure you actively supervise your dog’s interactions with visiting children.
• Always remember to wash your hands regularly before and after interacting with your dog and ask your guests to do the same. A dog’s coat, lead, toys etc, could carry coronavirus just like any other surface.
• Do not be afraid to ask people not to pet your dog if you don’t feel comfortable or if your dog wants some alone time.
Getting out and about with your dog
• It is summertime so make sure you never leave your dog in a hot car and refresh their training around picnic food and ball games.
• Use our handy guide to teach your dog to feel comfortable with seeing people in facemasks, particularly if you are using public transport.
• Remember that social distancing is still in place, so you may want to continue to use a lead when out walking or polish up your recall training.
• Get your dog re-accustomed to travelling safely in the car using a harness or crate by using lots of tasty treats or their favourite toy to reward calm behaviour and make the experience a positive one.
Dogs Trust’s Chief Executive, Owen Sharp, said: “As the nation prepares for the next step in the lifting of lockdown, it’s important that we factor in the impact this may have on our four-legged friends. Dogs will have become accustomed to having their favourite humans by their side day in day out, as well as having their homes to themselves and little interaction with the outside world.
“While people may be excited to take advantage of restrictions easing over the coming weeks, keep in mind that our dogs may find this a more difficult transition, which is why we have lots of top tips to help them ease back into their ‘new normal’.
“For some people, the lifting of lockdown might also come with a realisation that they can no longer accommodate a pet in their lives. In these difficult times we understand that circumstances can change, and there are many things that are beyond our control, so we would encourage anyone who is thinking about giving up their dog to contact us and we will do everything we possibly can to help.”
Whilst Dogs Trust Rehoming Centres remain closed to walk in members of the public, the charity is still taking in dogs that need to be rehomed, using an appointment system. Members of the public who want to give up their dog can get in touch on 0300 303 2188 to discuss their options and book an appointment.
For more information and access to more training, tips and tricks please visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/easinglockdown