As we are in lockdown right now, and many people are working from home with their dogs, the novel situation for our pets can become a little odd for them. They may start exhibiting some problem behaviours you have never seen before. You might also be wondering how your dog will react when you do finally go back to work, and leave them on their own again.
We have the solutions right here to keep you and your dog happy and ready for your return to work at any time, and without fuss.
1. DITCH THE ROUTINE
If you have a routine with your dog, then ditching it might sound like a big deal and perhaps crazy! However, there is science behind it, I promise! Ditching the routine is VITAL to creating a FLEXIBLE dog. A flexible dog is much more able to deal with changes in every-day life.
People tend to get stuck in a routine, walk at the same time, feed at the same time, naps at the same time, all of which creates a dog who anticipates what is coming next. Ditching a routine needn’t be a big deal, something as simple as taking them in the car with you, but not getting them out, or changing the time and place of your walks, or feeding food throughout the day in different ways, will all make a difference and start to build up some flexibility.
Being flexible will help in situations like this, when you are working from home with your dog, or even at weekends
2. QUIET TIME
Your dogs may well be used to you being out of the house for short periods of time – which obviously isn’t happening right now! This is usually when they get their most active rest, to switch off, sleep and re charge.
Even if you think your dog IS getting the sleep they need right now, they STILL need to have some time away from you.
So, depending on their experience, whether that’s putting them in a covered crate in the bedroom, or working in a separate room from them, make sure they are somewhere quiet where they can’t get into mischief and truly rest.
Gate guards also come in useful so they can’t follow you around the house. This will really help with any potential separation anxiety issues popping up.
3. PLAY GAMES
Just because you can only go out once a day doesn’t mean your dog has to get bored. There are games you can play in your own house, with your dog, that make for a perfect little workout. They are also super FUN!
- SCENT GAMES
Get your dog to sniff out treats, or a toy, that you have hidden in the garden or around the house.
- TEACH A NEW TRICK
Maybe teach your dog to get into a middle position or try a hand touch – both very useful for things like recall. Perhaps there is a trick you’ve always wanted to try? Now is a great time!
- SHAPING GAMES
These are PERFECT for brain stimulation and can be done with literally any item around the house. Why not give it a go?
Choose an object and decide how you want to use it. Maybe you want to get them to nose touch something, or put two paws onto an object, or maybe you have a big cardboard box you can get them to climb into!
SHAPING A PAWS UP ONTO A PLANT POT
Let’s use the plant pot example, we want to get our dog to end up with two paws up on it.
- Put the object in front of you, with your dog on the other side, and treat for ANY movement towards the pot.
- Once they get the idea that moving towards the pot is getting a reward, hang back till they touch it with a paw, and be quick to get the reward in. A clicker works really well for catching this.
- You can ‘reset’ them each time by throwing food AWAY so they have to come back to you – with you sitting on the other side so they almost HAVE to interact with the object.
- You aren’t instructing them or cueing them to do anything at this point. They have to use their brain to work out what you want!
Some dogs pick this up faster than others, and this is a SUPER hard workout on the brain, so keep the sessions short, and take it back a step or two if they are finding it hard.
Climbing into a box is a great one and really useful. For example; getting them to climb into tubs of water to wash their paws off after a walk!
Another way to keep your dog busy and a little less focussed on you at home, is to provide some calming enrichment activities. These could be:
Tasty Chews and Bones – from frozen raw bones to tasty dried chews, your local pet shop should be able to help as most are still open as they are classified as ‘essential’ items.
Filled Hoofs or Bones – filled hooves or bones are a little easier for some dogs to empty then kongs, and you can slowly build up freezing them to make them last longer.
Lickimats – the possibilities are endless with lickimats! From pates and pastes to raw feed, even things you may already have in your fridge such as cheese spread and peanut butter. Freeze to make them longer lasting for a cool treat.
Filled Kongs – As above, you can even fill with healthy treats mixed up with something squishy and freeze to make them last longer.
These are all tried and tested ways of working at home with your dog and things that I do day in and day out in my multi dog household!
If you still find you are struggling right now though please don’t struggle alone – get in TOUCH.
I am still doing ONE TO ONES with students to work through any issues they might have and I also have a great selection of VIRTUAL TRAINING CLASSES taking place where you can you join our little community and learn a TON of FUN training games to keep you busy!