The benefits of pet ownership for health and wellbeing are well-documented, easing anxiety and loneliness, providing daily structure, and improving mood. And that’s in normal circumstances.
During lockdown, pets are proving a lifesaver for many, providing friendship, routine and happiness. We’re basically clinging onto our mental sanity through them and they haven’t even realised!
We’ll say it now, no one is happier about the country being in lockdown and working from home than our dogs. They’ve had unprecedented access to us, our laps and our leftover snack crumbs like never before. They’re the real winners of this global pandemic.
So, what should we do with our dogs, now that we find ourselves with an abundance of time, limited space and their constant companionship?
Staying active and getting fresh air are two of the most important things you and your pets can do right now to support both of your mental health and well-being. Utilise the reduced time available and develop a consistent daily exercise routine between 15-30 minutes with your pet.
If there are multiple members in your household, try and schedule brief walks intermittingly so that your dog can get outside several times and collect the smells of the day. If they don’t get enough exercise, they may display behavioural issues such as restlessness, destructive chewing, peeing inside and whining. Yep, that annoying, separation anxiety sound that seeps under your shut office door until you surrender and let them in. Nobody wants that.
Share the Joy
We’d much prefer fluff balls alongside isolated persons doing weird and wacky things instead of the grave and dire updates that often fill our newsfeeds. Don’t hesitate to share your favourite photos and videos of your pets online for others who may not have a canine friend but need the happiness boost. Finally, an excuse to deep dive into that dusty, pet costume box and dress them
up in that bumblebee outfit.
Although this pandemic is temporary, the memories that you create with your beloved pet will last forever!
If you’re finding yourself or your mood under the weather, mental stimulation can often make up for missed exercise. Examples of mental stimulation could include making your pooch work for their daily food allowance (no, not in the biggest loser sort of way) by hiding it around the house or backyard, using activity feeders (both homemade or commercial) or using it as a reward when teaching new tricks.
Consider creating a DIY scavenger hunt for them by burying and concealing treats in different locations and letting them use scent to hunt. You can also give your dog the remnants of an empty peanut butter jar or fill a hollowed-out dog bone with peanut butter and freeze it.
Clinical Animal Behaviourist, Rosie Bescoby recommends using your pet’s normal food allowance during games and training, rather than additional treats to ensure they don’t stack on the kilos. The only sausage dogs we want emerging from lockdown are dachshunds.