self-isolating with your pup
keep your pup's tail wagging during lockdown
By Ella Bowman, Paws in Work Mental Health blogger
For those of us that feel like we’ve exhausted the tricks and aren’t quite sure how to stop ourselves and our dogs from tearing our hair out, Paws in Work are here to help with some recommendations.
start the day right
Not only are we feeling a collective anxiety due to our current situation -- which is tiring in itself -- but there are many reasons we might be feeling groggy at the moment, due to poor quality sleep, or because we’re staying in bed longer now we are spared our commutes. Sounds silly, but we’re upsetting our circadian rhythms by hiding under the duvet, and missing daylight hours we used to benefit from. Try three days of getting up at 7am and getting ahead of the day because, of course, you might feel better for it, but your dog will love having its needs anticipated. Rather than chomping at the bit for its breakfast or to go for a walk, deciding that, yes, for a few days you’ll try out being the proactive one can really help kick off a Good Dog Day. If you’re doing this already, then heaven help you if it’s not working.
Only joking! There are plenty more ideas where that came from, and if you have any others, do let us know on social media, we’d love to hear how you’ve been making it work for you.
First of all we should say that the World Organisation for Animal Welfare states that there is no likely threat of spreading coronavirus dog-to-dog, nor from dog-to-human, at the time of writing. If you’ve an older dog on your hands, then you may not feel so anxious to socialise as those welcoming puppies into their home, when playing with other dogs isn’t only fun, it’s necessary to forge their confidence with the pack for life. However please ensure you are always keeping to government advice and keeping a good 2m away from owners.
That’s what makes Paws in Work such an excellent solution in general for puppies and employees alike: the puppies need to be out there, introduced to the world around them, other dogs and a diverse range of people (you don’t want your dog growing up aggressive towards children, for example). And the employees love it, as we know!
Training leads are a good way to let your puppy run around outside in the park, playing with other friendly dogs of similar statures, whilst being able to keep them away from those larger dogs for whom a bit of rough-and-tumble might be a bit much for your small companion.
Whatever size, before marching on in with a guess that a dog’s okay with a playmate, always check with their owner first. Whether it’s that they’re protective of their stick, scared of other dogs, have just been to the vet and aren’t feeling social, or maybe they’re just plain grumpy, you should never make a guess as to the welcome you will get from a dog that’s not known to you.
Where socialising might not be available to you, or your puppy’s awaiting its final vaccination quarantine to be over (we get it, puppy, we want to run wild and free outside, too!), then fun is where it’s at. Puppies love playing games and there are many nifty tricks that can keep them occupied.
First of all, peanut butter is your friend (in moderation and purely peanuts: be careful there’s no chocolate or Xylitol anywhere near the ingredients at the very least). Whether you smear some into the inside middle of a toilet roll; put a dab into a paper bag, which you then scrunch up; or place some in a cleaned-out yoghurt pot, this will keep your friend occupied for at least one cup of tea brewed… maybe even the first sip!
And then treats, these guys are great hidden around the house, under yoghurt pots, in a tied-up old sock, or in treat dispensers like Kongs.
Tug-of-war is a firm favourite. Why not -- rather than feel the odd wave of generosity as you try to get your work done, wondering why your dog wants still more tug-of-war playtime when you’ve spent ten seconds entertaining it already -- set aside time for play. Make tug of war, or fetch (across the living room), your own gratifying time to bond with your dog, It’ll really appreciate the focus and energy you pour into it during this time, and will likely feel lazy after your fifteen minutes of games-focus.
What’s great about training is the long-term gains, and the bonding it sets you up for with your dog. There are loads of excellent resources for learning how to train a pup, but a good place to start is the Dogs Trust. And don’t be afraid of feeding them by scattering some kibble (good for training your pup to settle), or via a puzzle feeder (more on which here).
Ultimately, bored dogs become destructive. Any behaviour that your pup or dog is showing that isn’t appreciated by you is, we’re sorry to say, down to its experiences, not its personality. You can be the guiding force for this, with the right know-how, advice and a consistent and measured approach. It’s hard work, but worth it when you see it pay off.