Many of us have been adjusting to new routines these past few weeks.
Like us, many of our pets are also likely to find this change difficult. And a bustling household and reduced exercise may mean our animals display more problem behaviours than usual – especially dogs who easily become overstimulated. But the good news is that there are things that can be done to help our animals to feel more comfortable. It is also important to be flexible – if your dog’s training regresses or your cat’s behaviour changes, be patient and prepared to make adjustments and seek guidance from a professional if you need help.
Above all else, enjoy this time with your pet. While the world feels so unfamiliar, our pets are working hard to bring us joy. Here are a few tips….
All pets should have a safe spot in the house to enjoy when they need some quiet time. This could be a spare bedroom, bathroom, or utility room at the right temperature, or simply a bed or a crate in the corner or under a desk. It important they get the rest they need, as well as the exercise they need. Too much exercise can be a problem if different family members want to take them out – lots of dogs require a lot of sleep!
I don’t like the idea of dogs being left at home alone all day (why have one?) but there is a happy balance of rest v exercise when everyone is around!
Varied Walking Times
Try varying the time you take your walk to find what works best for you and your dog. You should also plan your route carefully. If you usually drive somewhere to walk, this is no longer advised so you should plan a route near your home.
Walking routes may be busier than usual with other walkers and cyclists, or runners now unable to visit the gym. If your dog struggles with any of these, planning your route and avoiding popular times is crucial. Your dog may find their new routine more stressful than usual, so be understanding of this.
Stimulate them Mentally
This is important as it gives them something to do and enriches their lives. Food and puzzle toys can help to relieve boredom and unwanted behaviours such as chewing. One of the easiest options for mental stimulation is to scatter some biscuit or small treats on the floor, or hide them, and let your dog hoover them up. This encourages them to use their nose and makes dinner time more interesting.
Look our for signs of depression – your pet may shut down a little – especially if they are used to a certain routine, a certain route or are used to being out and about with you meeting friends and lots of new people. We affectionate and reassuring but don’t spend every minute of the day in their company! Above all, don’t overfeed them or over exercise them!