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02 Jul Preparing your dog for life after lockdown

Lockdown is slowly being lifted, with hospitality businesses opening and people heading back to work. And whilst we all adjust to the ‘new normal’, so will your dog.

From managing their separation anxiety to visiting the vets, we’ve covered everything you need to help your dog adapt to their new routine.

Separation anxiety

Border Collie looking out of a window

With lots of dog owners working from home or furloughed, dogs across the UK have been happily enjoying high levels of ‘humans being at home’. But with many of us returning to work, our dogs are going to need to get used to spending time without us again. Even dogs who previously managed well away from their owners will need considerate training to help them adapt to the ‘new normal’.

For everything you need to know about separation anxiety, including tips for easing your dog into spending time alone, read our complete guide to separation anxiety.

Visits to the vets

Dachshund at the vet

Whilst many vets have stayed open for emergencies, many are now in a position to open their doors for their full range of services. However, with social distancing in place, your visit to the vet might be a little different. 

Your veterinary surgery will have taken steps to ensure that both you and their staff are protected and able to maintain social distancing at all times. This could include:

  • Limiting access to the surgery to staff and patients only, meaning you may not be able accompany your pet for their appointment
  • Glass panelling in waiting rooms and consultation rooms
  • Markers on the floors to enable you to socially distance from staff and other patients
  • A requirement to wear a mask

All of these measures could be intimidating for your dog, so it’s important you take steps to keep them calm. If you have any concerns about the way the measure might affect your dog, make sure you discuss this with the veterinary team who will be able to put your mind at ease or find an alternative solution. Try not to miss out on routine care during this time – your dog still needs their check-ups and vaccinations to keep them happy and healthy!

Visit to the groomers

It’s been months since groomers have been able to open, so they are predictably swamped with dogs needed their questionable lockdown haircuts tidied up. Like other businesses, they are having to introduce social distancing measures – in practice this means a distanced drop off and pick up system and limited appointment slots that may have to be prebooked. 

If you normally accompany your dog at the groomers, you may need to accept that this is not an option – you could consider putting off a groom until measures are relaxed further or trying a basic groom at home instead.

Visits to doggy day care

Many doggy day care centres have been able to maintain their services throughout lockdown thanks to good social distancing. The main risk has always been drop off and pick up, which need to be managed so that staff and customers don’t need to come into contact with one another. 

If your dog is visiting doggy day care for the first time (for example, if they are a puppy or were adopted during the lockdown) you will need to help them get used to the environment. Talk this over with your daycare providers – they will let you know the best course of action to take and be able to allay your concerns.

Changes to dog walking arrangements

woman with dog

Much like doggy day care, dog walking has continued throughout the pandemic. The main risks for dog walkers is to avoid contact during pick up and drop off – this can be easily achieved by letting the dog make their own way between you in a safe environment (such as by a busy road). Alternatively, you could hook your dog’s lead round a post then step back for your dog walker to unhook them.

Getting your dog used to people wearing masks

Face masks have become commonplace in public places, but for your dog they present a particular hazard. Studies have shown that dogs are able to read our facial expressions and respond – with a mask in the way this becomes much more difficult for them, and potentially concerning. If you notice your dog displaying unusual behaviour around people wearing masks (such as by shying away, being aggressive or defensive) then you need to make sure they get proper socialisation. Follow the steps below to start socialising them to masks.

  • First, cover your nose and mouth with your hand, and give your dog a treat. Repeat this a few times to ensure your dog is comfortable. Talk to them with your mouth and nose covered, offering them treats as you go.
  • Next, show them the face mask before you put it on your face. Let me them sniff it and get a good look at it.
  • Put the face mask on and reward their calm behaviour with treats and affection. Go about your daily chores with the mask on so that they get used to you wearing it.
  • Take them out on the lead to an area they are already familiar with but where they are likely to encounter people in masks, such as a town centre or high street. Have them calmly sit whilst people in masks walk by, rewarding calm behaviour. If they are stressed, remove them from the situation for a time and then return, gradually building up to the point where they don’t react at all.

Maintain a high-quality exercise routine

Whilst you’ve been on lockdown, you may have been using the time to get out an exercise more with your pup – and that’s great! However, once you’re back to work, it’s easy for that new exercise regime to slip. 

Instead of throwing those good habits away, try and maintain the increase in exercise as much as possible, for you and your pooch. You can easily measure how much they are getting with a PitPat dog activity monitor, from just £39.

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