5 Tips for transitioning your pet out of lockdown
Woods Veterinary Behaviour
COVID and repeated lockdowns has been one long (and not always fun) roller coaster. Changing rules and work schedules has not only taken its toll on us, but also our pets. Below you'll find tips that will make those ups and downs that bit smoother.
1. Keeping to routines
Where possible, continuing with as many of the routines you currently have in place will help your dog or cat to to feel less stress and more comfortable. Knowing when they will be fed, when they will be walked and when they can play is important, especially for those who experience anxiety. Anxiety is caused by not knowing and expecting the worst. Therefore if we have a routine, we know what is going to happen next; we know what to expect and this will reduce anxiety
2. Routines you must change - change slowly or start practicing
For routines that must change, consider what you can do now to get your pet use to that change before it happens. For example - Will you have to cease midday walks - perhaps play a brain game at this time rather than heading out of the house. Will you be leaving the house for for longer - start with baby steps such as encouraging more rest in a separate room from you when you are working and practice going out the door in the morning.
3. Create a calm space
It will likely have been a long time since you have had people visiting your home. Except for the postman, your pet may have rarely experienced this in their life time. They may love to have a quiet space in your house for your pet to rest and relax in while your house is busier.
Remember to first build this up as their favorite calm space. For example let them rest there when the house is quiet, provide calm chew toys there regularly and leave them with items of clothing that smell like you (e.g. yesterday's t-shirt).
4. Let sleeping dogs lie
Now that you can go out and about more, you may want to take your dog with you. They have been there for you through the tough times and now you want to show them a good time. However, before you take them to the busy market place or pub, think about if this is your dogs idea of a good time. For example a pub can be a confusing place for a dog - lots of different sounds, food going in all directions that they can't have and other people and dogs near by that they can't say hello to. They may prefer to stay home and rest and have a walk to the park later.
5. Consider sounds
The sounds in and around your house will be changing. This might be quieter, because the children and school and you are going to the office more, or it might be louder because the roads will be busier or there will be more people walking past your house on their way to school.
Dogs and cats hear exceptionally better than we do, so are likely to be more affected by these changes. Options to consider are closing curtains to reduce extra sounds and leaving on a audio book or classical music to provide more soothing sounds.
If you are at all concerned about your pets ability to cope during this difficult time please contact your veterinarian.