We are in unprecedented times. Life is a bit scary for all of us right now. Importantly, we should not panic!
Many people are working from home for now, which means they are cancelling doggie day care and dog walkers. Sadly, doing this does present a range of possible problems.
If it is possible not to fully cancel, I’m sure your dog walker/ boarder will be eternally grateful. If they can’t work then their business dies and then you will have nobody to help you when all returns to normal.
If you are not working and cannot afford to hire your dog walker or boarder any more, but expect to return to normal after all the chaos has died down, then you will need to consider the following:
1. You will need to try to maintain social opportunities for your dog. Even though you may have had early socialisation, this can “wear off” if not maintained. This is especially so during adolescence when the brain goes through a period of re-structuring. Unused synapses get pruned back and this could lead to your dog “losing” their social skills. Adolescence can be any time between approximately 16 weeks and 18 months, depending upon the breed. Maintaining socialisation during this stage is very important.
2. Separation. You will need to ensure that you enable your dog to practice being separated from you - even if you are at home. Dogs will readily become highly dependent on human company. Many dogs develop separation related distress after owners have been home following redundancy, operations, or other prolonged periods where the owner stays at home, such as school teachers after the school holidays. When all goes back to normal, the dog cannot cope and then you will be facing a difficult time to help your dog to cope. Prevention is better than cure.
3. Puppies. If you have a puppy and have been asked to socially isolate yourself, you really do need to find a safe way of getting your puppy socialised safely. It would be a good idea to contact a dog walker, trainer, or boarder to help you with walking and socialising your puppy. Do ensure your pup will not be surrounded by a large pack of dogs as this is likely to overwhelm them. Ideally puppy should be walked with one other friendly dog and then gradually introduced to other friendly dogs.
If you are in isolation because you have been exposed to coronavirus, or displaying symptoms, or for precautionary reasons, please make sure you let your dog walker, boarder or trainer know so that they can advise you how they would like you to handle the situation. For example, if you can pop the puppy into a porch area for the dog professional to collect without coming into contact with you. The dog professional should wear gloves to protect themselves and you. The dog professional should use their own lead. All normal safety advice should be followed. Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap before and after activities where exposure the the virus is possible and you should not put your hands on your face until hands have been thoroughly washed.