At Home With Your Dog Due To Covid-19?
Updated: Apr 14
Many dogs across the nation must feel like they've won the lottery now that their owners are suddenly working from home in the midst of this corona virus pandemic. Spending more time with our dogs can also be extremely therapeutic in these challenging times of social distancing and uncertainty.
But all may not be entirely peachy at home with your dog, for any number of reasons. In this article, I address some potential issues and provides a few tips.
One issue that has cropped up for some dogs is a sudden reduction in exercise or activity in their daily routine. With doggie day cares, dog parks, and dog-walking services closed down in our area now, a dog's usual exercise routine might have changed rather abruptly. To continue to meet their exercise needs, here are a few ideas:
If your dog loves to play with other dogs, perhaps you can arrange play dates with another friendly dog in a safely fenced yard, while both owners maintain social distance.
Flirt pole play can be a marvelous form of exercise, and is lots of fun for many dogs. I wrote about them here.
Mentally enriching activities can be just as fun and satisfying as aerobic exercise. Some examples include food-stuffed puzzles and treasure hunts. (More details can be found here.) These activities will also keep your dog contentedly occupied while you're on conference calls or otherwise working at your desk.
If your dog is really enthusiastic about tug play, another way to create some independent play is to hang a toy from a bungee leash, as shown in the video below.
Another issue may be that your dog is so pleased to finally have you home during the day that he's frequently seeking your attention and interrupting your work flow. In part, this issue can be addressed using some of the suggestions above, but you can also specifically teach your dog what you'd like him TO do, and it won't take much of your time at all.
For example: park a dog bed near your desk, and have a bowl of treats at hand. When you notice your dog lying down quietly on his bed, drop treats to him periodically to reinforce this lovely behavior. If you want to make it easy to keep close tabs on him and limit his wandering options, loop a 4' leash around your desk leg and then attach to his collar so he's tethered near you.
Here's another tip to keep in mind. Your dog has previously acclimated to a certain amount of alone-time during the day when you left the house to go to work. But now that you're working temporarily from home, this alone-time skill may 'weaken' over time. So I encourage you to continue to create occasional alone-time sessions for your dog during the day, to keep this skill honed.
If you need some help resolving any doggie issues, I'd love to help, and am offering remote video consultations.
Virginia Dare is a certified dog trainer & behavior counselor with decades of experience. Her business offers remote consultations anywhere in the US for training and behavior help, matchmaking services, and pre- and post-puppy arrival counseling. She also provides in-home, private lessons and behavior consultations in northern Fairfield and Westchester counties, western New Haven county, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties.
Please visit www.NorthStarCanines.com/services to learn more, or contact me at 804.784.0120
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