During lockdown, I am constantly reminded that we are so fortunate to have all the technology we do. It has enabled us to keep in touch with loved ones and also for so many of us to be able to continue working from home.
We can also use this technology to help with our pets, including making time alone more comfortable. One of my lovely clients recently introduced me to a Podcast that is designed especially for dogs whom are home alone.
There are two 5hr sessions and each has a series of relaxing chat, stories, praise and soothing music – tailored and spoken to your dog in a way that soothes and promotes sleep rather than stir or excite. It begins slightly upbeat as if you’ve just returned from a walk and gradually slows and mellows helping your dog calm and settle. If you already use some form of noise as part of your leaving routine or if you currently leave them in silence, it might be worth considering giving this a try! It is completely free and made by pet psychologists and other professionals.
Check out ‘My Dog’s Favourite Podcast’ on Spotify – HERE
We’d love to know what you (really your dog) thought of this!
An adult dog sleeps around 12-14 hours a day on average, and if you have a very lazy dog like myself it can seem like he sleeps for even longer! Rest is really important for the physical and mental well being of all living beings, and that includes our furry friends. Without ample rest they too can soon become irritable, stressed and unwell.
The COVID lockdown has forced people to stay home and whilst it is lovely to spend so much time with our furry companions, it does mean that their rest and sleep routines have been hugely interrupted. Factor that with many dogs being taken on increased amounts of walks with bored household members and you have a recipe for some seriously sleep deprived pooches!
The easiest way to help your dog get the rest they need is to be aware of the amount of activity they are having and preventing them from receiving too much. Equally, if you have given your dog a large amount of exercise consider giving them a quieter day following so that they can recover.
It is really important to think about the amount of time they are able to rest or sleep uninterrupted too, you can help your dog get the rest they need by giving them a quiet space to sleep. If they have a designated sleep area such as a bed in the kitchen, help them settle there and try to prevent disturbing them. Linking in with what we discussed yesterday about encouraging independence, this is a really good way of keeping them feeling well and promoting alone time.
If you have children at home, encourage them to leave your dog to rest too. It is really important that they understand pets need quiet time too – this is especially important in preventing accidentally nips and scratches from overexcited and tired dogs.
There are other things you can do to help create a restful environment, noise therapy is a popular and easy one to try. It has been scientifically proven that classical music can have a soothing effect on canines, and many rescue centers use this to ease stress levels. Much like with babies too, creating a level of white noise can help them settle and reduce stirring. If you have a dog that is easily aroused by nearby sounds such as cars driving by, people talking outside or even hearing dogs on the TV, it might be worth popping a radio on – any channel that plays mellow music or has a lot of calm talking may well help them settle down.
COVID has meant that we have been able to spend so much more time home with our furry loved ones, and that has been great! However this has meant that some are now struggling to adjust to what used to be the norm of being left home alone.
It is really important that we try to maintain their confidence in our established routines, and this has been tricky whilst we have been restricted with the lockdown, but now that some of us are facing the prospect of returning to work (in whatever format that may be) it is crucial that we make sure they will be able to cope when left.
So what can we do?
We need to make sure we are reinforcing positive time alone and encouraging independence at home during the day, even if we are there. Many of us are working from home now and may well be for a long time; wherever it is that you work from – no matter if it is the sofa or a dedicated room – refrain from having them join you all the time. Shut them out of the room you are working in and give them time to rest or something to keep them busy; you may also find you are more productive too!
Whilst you are doing chores around the home or if you are busy pottering in the garden, consider shutting them indoors or out of the room you are in for a while. These small steps promote self-soothing and encourage them to rest independently, after all we do not need company whilst we are folding laundry and they do not need to ‘help’!
We spoke about the importance of routine yesterday, read more HERE, and how we should try to practice leaving them regularly to keep this part of their independence fresh. Now that we are allowed to exercise multiple times a day, it may be good for you to use this opportunity to practice leaving them for a short period each day. Even if you walk around the block or to the local shop, keeping this routine current will make leaving them for longer lengths of time much less stressful for both of you.
If your dog has become very clingy or is not coping with being left home, start off with small intervals and give praise when you return. It is important to not over-praise upon your return though, you do not want to reinforce that there was a reason to stress. Think about how you used to act when you got in from work, did you give them a quick belly rub, some verbal praise and then let them in the garden? If so, do this – keeping the routine will aid their transition back to what was once OK!
Creating, and most importantly maintaining, a routine is one of the most crucial things you can do for you pets. This establishes a series of dependable steps that help your dog feel safe and secure, by reinforcing that being left home alone is ‘OK’, and that you will always return.
Keeping up these routines has been the biggest challenge of the current COVID pandemic for dog owners, because we physically cannot leave them for very long, if at all. This has blown our existing and trusted routines and is creating a new one which has already caused so much unrest for pets and owners when they’re being called back to work.
So what can we do about this?
We can firstly make sure that we stick to as much of the usual daily routine as possible; starting and ending the day at a reasonable time helps keep you and their body clocks in check. It can be hard, especially as keeping motivated during this time is challenging with no definitive end in sight, but it will do a lot of good for yourselves and them.
Another big part of their routine is feeding and walk timings – try not to deviate from these too much. We have recently talked about how we can make feeding times more interesting and last longer on our Facebook page (see post HERE); any form of enrichment, so long as it does not cause too much frustration behaviour, is a great way to occupy them and get their brains and body stimulated. You do not have to be a scientist to achieve this either – there are lots of great ideas out there for scatter or puzzle feeding. These are proven techniques used commonly in rescue kennels and such like, it is an easy way to entertain and extend a positive part of their day.
Lastly, when you do leave your dog, do you have a set way of doing this? We have a very simple routine of locking the back door, closing windows and popping the radio on. By this point, our dog knows what is happening and often sits on his bed in the kitchen or lays on the rug in the living room. We then scatter a treat around the living room and ask him to ‘wait’ whilst we get our things together, and just as we are about to leave we tell him to ‘go on, good boy’. He then hunts out the treat(s) whilst we exit and lock the door. We do this every time we leave, regardless of whether we are popping to the local shop or heading out for a longer stretch of time. This has created a really secure routine for him with expectations that he knows and is comfortable with. If this is something that you do not have with your dog, or it is something that is not consistent, I would highly recommend starting here.
Tim joined us in 2019 and quickly became settled in with his round of furries, befriending and gaining their trust. He’s so hard working and often goes the extra mile for the benefit of the individual pets under his care – we really could not have found a better fit for our ethos or team.
Here is Tim’s Story thus far:
“I have always loved animals but it wasn’t until after a varied career of trying many different things that the time was right to get my first dog. I adopted a lurcher pup from a local rescue centre and things fell into place from there – I realised that animals (specifically dogs) were such amazing and fascinating creatures and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them.
I started volunteering and then went on to working for a large dog rehoming charity as an animal carer. This involved undertaking all aspects of animal care from husbandry, exercising, training and medication to carrying out home visits for potential rehoming. This was incredibly rewarding work and I had the opportunity to help many lovely dogs turn their fortunes around and find amazing homes. I learnt so much during this time however, a back injury meant a change of direction was necessary.
I was thrilled to be invited to be a part of the Good Dog Team, particularly as Danielle’s values regarding welfare align with my own. The animals in our lives are so important to us and it can be very hard to trust others with the care of our beloved beasts. I hope that through our experience and passion, our clients can relax knowing that their animals are well cared for. It’s been great getting to know all the pooches (and their people) that I see every day and I hope I can fulfil their days as much as I would want for my own animals.”
Katie joined our team in 2018, and fast became much loved by our furry friends and their owners, and it is easy to see why. She’s incredibly patient with our youngest or more complicated furry friends, and is fully committed to providing the best service possible so that they have the most enjoyable time yet are kept safe in our care.
Here is Katie’s Story thus far:
“I started my journey as a young girl, I mean who doesn’t love animals when they’re a child? Well I know for certain I did. As cliché as it sounds, I knew I had a passion for animals from a young age, I just didn’t know back then how much of a difference I could make in the world of animals.
My first love was horses, I started riding at a young age and this lead to me loaning horses and studying Equine Care at College. It was after I completed this qualification that I decided I wanted to learn more about a variety of animals; I then went on to completing my Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management. These studies taught me the ‘proper’ techniques and methods of providing appropriate care for a whole host of animals…but then it was time for the real world.
My first job working with animals was at a local Animal Sanctuary, this is where my eyes were opened in many ways – from caring for surrendered animals, the physicality of the husbandry involved and the challenges and limitations of working in a charity. All of this only made my passion expand.
This is where I bring you to the part of my life where I started the job of my dreams, working for ‘Good Dog Care Pet Services’. Being introduced to Danielle and the pooches was the start of the next step for me, I now get to work with some amazing pets each day – I feel privileged to be able to assist owners in making peoples life as a pet owner the best it can be. With a lot of hard work and determination I hope to continue doing what I love, with thanks to our incredible clients, old or new!”
Good Dog started after I completed a BSc Animal Science & Welfare in 2015. It encompassed so many aspects of animal care – behaviour & training, disease control, nutrition and anatomy & physiology to name a few! This gave me such a varied wealth of knowledge and only increased my passion for animals further, I was so determined to begin meaningful work within the industry, but I found myself struggling to find promising career options.
It was something I enjoyed but could never envision becoming ‘a real job’. I began helping friends and family with their pets: exercising them, giving advice and staying with them whilst they were away on holidays which led to some family friends inquiring and so on. It was not long before things picked up pace and began to snowball – I was receiving multiple referrals and recommendations from those willing to take a chance on me!
With a lot of hard graft and many ups and downs, we can fast forward to present day. We are now a fantastic team of 3, I have found the most amazing people to join me on this journey. We share the same ethos and pride ourselves on being animal welfare advocates. I am so grateful for our clients whom many are like extended family, and we’ve had some real success stories with helping rescue dogs gain confidence and settle into their new and improved lives. We are very proud of the work that we do, but we are so grateful that we get to hang out with our furry pals every day and call this our job.