As the world is slowly adapting to the effects of a global pandemic, our dogs are experiencing, in the words of author Hannah Brooks Olsen, “unprecedented levels of People Being Home”. While we may inherently think that this is an undeniably positive thing for our dogs, we must remember that dogs thrive with routine and purpose. Although dogs are keen purveyors of comfort, we must, in turn, pay them back with a semblance of structure. Here are a couple of ways to get the ball rolling (and we always mean that literally here).
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have issued statements relating to the unlikelihood of canines being affected by COVID-19. We will take this moment to issue a gentle reminder that re-homing a dog for fear of it spreading the novel coronavirus would be unwarranted. We would even like to flip this and suggest that this may even be a great time to foster an adoptable dog! Many shelters have implemented online adoption and fostering application services during this time. In Canada, there has been a noted surge in applications since the self-isolation movement has begun.
Despite recent positive trends, a great deal of uncertainty remains, therefore do not forget to stock up on your pet’s food (and treats!). Retail stores across Canada are gradually reopening, with Ontario and Quebec having both recently made such announcements. At Wilder Harrier, you can double-up on your online order of healthy food and treats. We encourage you to order more treats than usual, as these will become a good way of keeping your dog occupied (more on that later).
A New Reality
A new reality for you means a new reality for your dog. As mentioned earlier, dogs thrive on routine. Your presence “During the Day” may disrupt this routine, which is why we suggest keeping some things as close to normal as possible. Whether or not you are working from home, we suggest keeping the feeding and potty-break schedule as close to normal as possible. For at-home workers, you may find your Zoom meeting disrupted by the ruthless sound of a squeaky toy as your dog clamors for your attention, which is why we strongly encourage the puzzle toy option for keeping your dog occupied. We use the Nina Ottosson “Dog Casino”.
For those who do not have access to personal outdoor spaces, keeping your dog occupied inside will be the real challenge. We encourage you to incorporate puzzle-solving into all feedings, making the process a little more challenging and thus rewarding in the end. You can put your dog’s food in various “Kong-like” toys and disperse or hide them in a room. This is also a great time to invest in a monthly at-home delivery box, like Bullymake or Woofpack who ship boxes of goodies for your pooch right to your door, keeping the inventory of available toys fresh and exciting! As an added note, if you are receiving more at-home deliveries than usual (hello, Amazon Prime), we suggest re-using the empty cardboard boxes and creating a maze of hidden treats and toys for your dog. We like to hide our dog’s favorite toys under cardboard boxes and watch her try to figure out how to get to them.
Since this is a time of great uncertainty, why not set small goals for yourself and your dog in order to rein in some form of order in the chaos? We suggest the humble goal of learning One New Trick. By practicing this new trick daily, you are actively participating in mentally stimulating your dog and establishing a tangible sense of progress for you both. It can be something as simple as: “Sit!” or as complex as “Sit and Stay When I Touch the Doorknob”. Either way, having a small project is always rewarding.
There is no right way to feel during a pandemic, but we suggest engaging in calming activities with your dog as a therapeutic means to quell feelings of uneasiness. You can listen to a feel-good dog-related movie like Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs or better yet subscribe to the free 30-day trial of DogTV. This service is designed to provide 24/7 content that is “scientifically designed to enrich your dog’s environment” (DogTV, 2020), watch a free sample of their Dog Relaxation video here. Another suggestion would be to groom your dog. Some dogs enjoy the feeling of getting a good brush, others are somewhat “works-in-progress”. Either way, this may be a good time to bond with your pet.
As stated earlier, there is no right way to feel during a time of great uncertainty. We, however, are of the unwavering opinion that everything is made better with the presence of dogs.