Lockdown has brought much change for our pets. Suddenly we were home full time or most of the time, changing their routines and nap times, which after several months they are now well accustomed to.
Pets that joined your family during these times have not known life any other way, and they’ve had a very different experience of socialisation compared to those pre-COVID-19.
In the future, our pets, like us, will need to adjust to a new normal as we start to transition to being out of the house for more hours a day. Some pets will take to this easily, others with more difficulty.
Here are some tips to help with pet care at this time:
More time at home means more time for bonding and training, which for both puppies, kittens and adopted adult pets is a plus. You can help your pets be comfortable with being handled gently, and teach your dog to learn to settle on a mat. Learning to quietly watch people and dogs pass by from a distance is another great skill that can be taught.
In-person group training and one-on-one outdoors training may not be available, although many puppy and adolescent dog classes can be found online. It’s great to speak to local trainers - who practice reward based training - so that you can switch to in person training when available. Training for adolescent dogs is just as important as the traditional puppy training period.
Take your puppy for walks to expose them to different areas, sounds and sights. Try going at different times of the day.
And, when restrictions permit and it is safe to do so, you can start to have puppy play dates with appropriate healthy dogs in back gardens.
When you return home acknowledge your pet calmly and quickly, with a gentle low voice. Encourage a behaviour that you want them to do, such as sit - and make sure to reward them when they do.
Physical stimulation through exercise, play and training is a must, but be aware that overstimulation and lack of sleep can also cause problems. Dogs and cats need more sleep than we do - quiet time and undisturbed sleep will help them be at their best and reduce overtired and destructive behaviours.
Ensure they have a private area that they can sleep, and not be disturbed by the other members of the house.