This is a difficult and unprecedented time for everyone in the world. There are no blueprints, no historical precedents on this scale to help us. Whilst we struggle to come to terms with a global pandemic, it is impossible to explain to our dogs why their world has suddenly shrunk and changed beyond all recognition.
There are some things that we can do to help them adjust and to make our lives a little less stressful whilst abiding by government advice and obligations and remaining safe.
1 Stimulation is as important for dogs as exercise. Find novel ways to keep your dog’s mind occupied, especially if exercise is limited
2 Now is the time to start or improve training. 5-15 minutes per day of non-aversive, positive training will work wonders
3 Use a lead and a long line when your dog is in public. Even if your recall is brilliant, that doesn’t apply to other dogs and it is imperative that you do not get into a situation that would make it impossible to keep at least six feet away from other people
4 Maintain a routine. Predictability helps dogs to feel secure even if it is different to your normal routine
5 Keep toys limited to two different types and swap them over periodically so that your dog does not become bored
6 Make sure that your dog has a safe, quiet place and can choose to go there, especially if your house is fuller and noisier than normal
7 Limit and control access that children have to your dog so that extra time at home does not mean extra pressure and stress for your dog
9 If you have new puppy, find inventive ways to continue socialisation: use sound tapes, wear a variety of different clothes, create lots of different surfaces to walk on etc
10 Keep it fun: keep it safe.
Contact DogsNet to obtain a unique COVID-19 Survival Guide
Worried about whether your dog or cat could catch COVID-19?
There have been reports in the press that two dogs and one cat have tested positive for COVID-19. Companion animals act as fomites – a surface on which COVID-19 can settle and be transferred via direct contact. Current advice is that following the correct hand washing technique should help to protect you and your animals from infection.
A new study published by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences has found that dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks transmit the virus poorly, but that ferrets and cats transmit it much more effectively. The cats in the study passed the virus to other cats in close proximity through aerosol transmission.
Ferret and cats owners in particular should therefore be very careful to limit close contact and observe the recommended hygiene procedures.