Your dog and Covid-19

During this time of "lock down" I have been thinking a lot about our Danes and indeed dogs in general, and it occurs to me that following this dreadful time, when we are all allowed to go back to our normal daily routines, it will no doubt be a happy and somewhat celebratory time for most of us. However this is when times get tough for our dogs.

I can see that there are two areas of behaviour which could so easily suffer and perhaps we should give that some thought now rather than have to deal with the fallout later.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs are pack animals and apart from maybe another dog or cat in the household we are their main pack. While we are all at home from work and the kids are home from school our Dane will be overjoyed he/she loves nothing more than having us all together . Separation anxiety comes about when he feels like he has become "outcast" from the pack. This is simply too much for him to handle and stress sets in, causing terrible consequences, not only damage to your home but severe depression and anxiety for the dog. So when "Boris" says "Go!" and we all rush off out the door leaving him at home alone how is he going to feel? Quite rejected, lonely maybe, and very stressed because he doesnít know why you have all suddenly abandoned him after all these weeks. He doesnít "get the virus thing", he just thinks he has done something to make you outcast him from his pack.

So, what can we do, well we can make sure every day that two or tree times a day we put him in a separate place away from us for short periods of time, building it up to say an hour each time. Then when he comes back into the living room with you all reward him for being good, if he has been good. If he has been howling and creating, then you need to start with shortened time periods, 5 minutes and build it up from there. We are all allowed out for exercise once a day, so why not take it in turns to dog walk, mum takes him one day, and then when the rest of the family are out for their exercise mum hides away quietly, take a bath maybe or do some gardening, so that he thinks you have all gone out. Iím sure you can use your imagination with this one but it is important to start now to avoid problems later, even if your dog has never suffered with separation problems in the past, there is always a first time and lets face it he has never before had you all shut in the house with him for weeks on end !

It may be worth investing is a DAP plug in and some Bachs rescue remedy drops in preparation for the time when we all get back to normal. When things are starting to look like they are improving out there I would start with the rescue remedy drops and plug in your DAP as it does take a little time to build up to maximum benefit. You should be able to get these online now in readiness for the big day.

It should be said that some of our older dogs may actually be glad when we go to work each day and look forward to a few hours of peace and quiet. So if you think your dog fits into this category please make sure he has his own quiet place to retreat to away from the family while you are all at home together.

Dog Socialising

When we are out dog walking, we are expected to stay away from our fellow dog walkers. So in order to do this we are probably having to keep our Dane on lead where normally we may let him/her run and meet other dogs? He is thinking "Why is mum pulling me away from the other dogs, they must be bad dogs". They may have once been best mates but after weeks of being hauled away from each other this is a recipe for a fight! It may be a case of "Mum says you are bad and I have to protect my pack from you so I have to bite you"! How can we help this situation? I have been thinking about this and I think the main thing is to still communicate with the other dog owners if you can, so try to call out to them in a very friendly way, not in a doom and gloom manner but in a "pleased to see you" voice, and explain to them why you are doing this if you can. They may be glad of a few tips as well. We know very well how much our dogs pick up on our mood, if we are depressed and fed up they will be the same so letís try to keep things as light hearted as we can for them. When you have finished talking, donít drag your dog away silently but make a game of it, and reward him for being nice while you are talking. If he has started to show any signs of aggression towards the other dogs ie barking, hackles up, then obviously donít reward him, make him sit quietly if you can until he is being ďniceĒ then give him a reward.

So when "Boris" says "Go!" be very careful not to rush off to your local dog walking field and release the hounds. This is a recipe for disaster. Although there will be much pent up energy, try to arrange to meet his best friends first if you can walk them together on leads letting them get used to each other again and make sure that their old mate is still not a threat to his pack, because after all you are his world. Once you are confident that all is well then of course let them off lead in a safe pace for a good old chase about.

During this time of "Lock down" you may be desperate to let your dog off for a run, but you cant do that on your local fields, so you could try this website securedogwalkingfields. Here you may be able to find a secure place to run your dog. You can rent a field, and for the time given it is only yours so you will not have to meet other owners or dogs.

Hopefully our situation wonít last for too long but while it does letís try to remember that our dogs are not thinking as we do. They donít think "Coronavirus", they "Think Dog".