As the COVID-19 pandemic closes many schools for the rest of the year and confines nonessential workers and the unemployed to staying at home, many of us are going a little stir crazy, not to mention experiencing feelings of anxiety about what the future holds.
Experts say dogs have stress thresholds, just like humans. And when there are too many changes such as an owner working from home, the local dog park being closed or children not going to school they can lose their coping mechanisms. But unlike humans, dogs aren’t equipped to process what has happened or to guess how to adapt.
There are a few more strategies you can follow to get back on track.
Be patient with your pet. If you feel yourself getting angry with your pet, remember that they’re not trying to be naughty. Animals don’t know how to be vindictive.
Create and stick to a routine. The more consistent we can be with a daily routine, the clearer we are about what pets can expect during this time of change. Stick to regular meal and walk times for your pet and schedule in opportunities for social interactions such as playtime and cuddling.
Give your dog some space. Dogs need both quiet time and boundaries. Being around people all day, every day, can be a lot for animals. To put it in human terms, they may start to feel like they’re always on call.
Provide a place they can escape to for a break. Whether it’s a beanbag bed, open crate, or corner of the couch, designate their favorite spot as a place where no one is allowed to bother them.
Plan for an eventual return to normal. If your dog is loving having you home all day, she may start to feel some separation distress when we return to real life, Make sure to guard against that by including some time away from pets in your pandemic routine. Go for a drive or walk or otherwise engage in safe activities elsewhere that do not include pets. This will help dogs and cats retain the skills of being able to entertain themselves and enjoy their alone time.
Bottom line: Focus on providing repetition, patience, and consistency for your furry friend.
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