How to cope with Coronovirus and self isolation if you’re a dog owner.
With the widespread news reports and concerns surrounding the Covid-19 virus and it’s ability to significantly spread to more people, what on earth do you do about this when you’re a dog owner?
You need to walk the dog, right?
It’s not uncommon for people to think their dog has to be walked everyday, but let me let you in on a little secret. You don’t need to walk the dog every day. In fact, one of the first things I recommend to people who have a barking dog, is to not walk them at all. I didn’t walk my dog for almost two weeks when working through a similar issue.
Now then, before you go thinking I’m cruel, or perhaps I shouldn’t have done this, let me tell you a few benefits to not walking your dog every day and in the case of Coronavirus, how it can actually help you to adhere to the self isolation recommendations and keep your dog happy and tired at the same time.
Daily outings, especially for barking dogs can just be too much for them to deal with, and the barking behaviour continues to be practiced which is not what we want. Us dog trainers speak about something called the Barking Bucket. If you picture an empty bucket, and every time your dog feels worried, frustrated, over excitement or anxious, imagine pouring a glass of water into this bucket.
The more water that is added, the more chance the bucket has of overflowing.
For example, when your dog barks, this is an overflowing bucket, and we need to empty the water by giving our dogs days off for the water to drain. The hole in the bottom of the bucket is small, so only a bit of water can drain out at a time and for it to empty completely, we need t least 72 hours.
Taking time out of walks and providing days off can really help and I get how totally alien it can feel to not walk your dog.
You can’t do nothing! Dogs still need to be exercised, but not always physically. Here’s the thing most people miss out on with their dog’s and that’s the mental exercise. You can tire your dog in 10-15 minutes, the same way you can tire them physically for over an hour.
– Ditch the food bowl and instead feed from a Kong or interactive toy. You can scatter feed your dog’s dinner portion over the garden, or hide small handfuls of food around the house for them to seek out and find.
– You may be feeling a bit crap if you’ve contracted Coronovirus or some sort of cold/infection, but if you’ve got enough energy to play a short game of tug, then you can incorporate this into teaching them to drop the toy too. Whilst having fun! If you play fetch, then I advise finishing the game by searching for the toy instead of chasing to bring their arousal back down again.
– Basic training. I will often do 5 minute sessions with each of my dogs teaching them a new skill or practicing a previously learned one. Currently, we are working on a durational hand touch. This is a simple activity in explanation, but the task takes dedication, commitment and time to complete. All I want my dog to do, is to touch my hand with their nose, but as a progression exercise, I would like them to hold it there until I give them their reward. Sounds simple doesn’t it? It’s takes more mental energy from your dog to think about and perform this activity. It’s also incredibly useful for many different obedience skills.
– Self control training. There’s nothing more I love than seeing a dog with patience. Something I practice a lot of with my dogs is a wait. I simply ask my dog to sit/lie down, walk away from them and place down a treat/ small pile of their food down on the floor. They can’t go to the food until I release them. Which I do by saying their name and clicking my fingers. Waiting patiently for some dog’s is mega hard! And it takes a lot of mind and body control to resist those urges to break the wait and rush to their reward.
This type of exercise actually helps to promote more calm in your dog than chaos, so if you’re reading this and have a dog with no off switch who you think HAS to be walked everyday, then give this a whirl because energetic dog’s don’t need to be running around/hiking for hours on end. That can tire them physically but not mentally and can create more chaos!
Dog’s obviously need to go to the toilet, so nipping them outside if they won’t go in the garden will have to be done at some point, so we can’t always completely avoid going outside, but once they’ve toileted, lets tire that excess energy they have, and keep the self isolation practices in place.
Self isolation for us is pretty normal. I do these things regularly and spend quality time with my dog’s instead of quantity with long walks.
To learn more about how to cope with Coronavirus and tire your dog in less than 10 minutes, come and join the free Coronavirus Challenge group