Lockdown is lifting and the weather might finally be improving. We’re all desperate to escape those limited social bubbles, but we need to be mindful of our dogs' level of anxiety or excitement.
Your dogs have visited the same places and met the same people and dogs for the last year; they might not be as resilient to cope with new challenges as they were a year ago.
Your dogs may need your help:
- when meeting new people,
- when meeting new dogs, especially energetic or bigger ones,
- when visiting new settings (e.g. when was the last time your dogs met farm animals?),
- with guarding behaviour (e.g. can your dog cope with vistors, or sharing attention or space with visiting dogs)
- with gradually getting used to being alone in the house after months in company
Be careful in new places
Treat places you have not visited recently as if they were new:
- Take your time when you reach your destination and let your dogs take it in.
- “Listen” to your dogs and keep your distance from incoming people, dogs or objects that might make your dog uneasy.
- Make sure your dog can keep a comfortable distance from approaching people and dogs, or is able to avoid them completely if need be. Give your dog the choice of whether to meet or not.
- Keep interaction with new dogs short. Avoid overly excited, boisterous pups.
- If your dogs cannot approach other dogs calmly, guide your dogs away.
- If your dogs become over-excited or agitated, find a quiet area for them to sniff around; maybe scatter some treats or kibble for them to find, then decide whether to continue or leave.
Give your dogs time to calm down
Dogs need time to recover from exciting or scary events. The stress hormone, cortisol, can take days to return to a normal level.
Let your dogs recover after a stressful event (positive or negative), or their ability to cope with the next event will be reduced:
- after a good game of chase with a dog, let them calm down before continuing the walk.
- avoid exciting or stressful events on consecutive days (e.g. groomer/vet/family visit)
- on the day after a socially challenging event, you could provide more calming enrichment activities at home, and shorter walks to allow the dog to settle back down to normal.
If you need any help with any of the issues mentioned above, please get in touch to arrange a consultation. We offer dedicated training sessions, educational presentations and training workshops via video conferencing at competitive prices. We have dedicated years to helping animals towards happier lives, and we love to help others to explore possibilities which will enable them to live happier and more harmonious lives with their pets.