COVID-19 and your pets
How can I prevent separation-anxiety in my dog or cat?
Separation anxiety can be described by feelings of anxiety when isolated (left home alone) or separated from a bonded companion (typically an owner). Separation anxiety can show itself in many forms including, but not limited to, restlessness, excessive vocalization, destructive behaviors, and accidents in the home.
While being home with our pets during these times of uncertainty is likely providing a great deal of comfort to humans and extra attention for pets worldwide, some owners might be nervous about their pets experiencing separation anxiety when they head back to their regular routine outside the home. Here’s what you can do now to minimize your pet’s risk of experiencing anxiety when that time comes:
- Keep a regular routine throughout your day – wake up, eat, go for a walk, and play at similar times each day. Try to match your current routine with the routine you’ll be getting back to when things return to normal.
- Leave your house, without your pet each day – you can go for a walk or do some work in the yard. This keeps your pet familiar with being left alone so when the time comes it’s not as much of a sudden change.
- Give your pet some peaceful alone time away from the family – give them an enrichment item, such as a food puzzle, kong with peanut butter or food frozen inside, etc, in the living room while you’re cooking dinner in the kitchen and the kids are outside playing. This helps show your pet that being alone or away from the family can be fun!
- Check out these links for more enrichment ideas:
- If you have a dog with separation anxiety and would like help from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can provide you with a list of our recommended trainers.
- For more information on separation anxiety check out these links:
How can I socialize my new puppy while social distancing?
Many pet lovers are considering getting a puppy now with all the extra time there is to spend with them! Having time for a puppy, and the adult dog when they grow up is an important factor to consider before getting a puppy. The current pandemic is certainly creating some barriers for new puppy owners when it comes to group training classes and general socialization. Puppies, and other pets, require exposure to, and positive experiences with, a variety of people, animals, and objects during their young developmental stages to set them up for success and help them become friendly, well-socialized adults!
Here are some suggestions that might make things easier for you and your new pup:
- When you are out for a walk and see a person, ask your pup to sit and pay attention to you. Make sure to give them a treat for doing a good job. This will help teach your pup to focus on you when there are other distractions around.
- If your pup sees something they might deem unusual, like a bike or wheelchair, give them treats to show them that weird things are fantastic because they mean treats happen!
- If you notice your pup staring at something for longer than usual, make note that they may be uncomfortable with that particular item. For example, a balloon blowing in the wind – if you notice your pup stop and stare and maybe even bark at the balloon, it may look cute but it’s possible they are trying to communicate they are feeling uncertain about this item. You can offer treats to show them that balloons are amazing as they bring treats. If your pup is not willing to take treats, this tells us that they are too uncomfortable, and in this case, you can move them farther away from the item and try to offer treats again.
- Have a family member dress up in a big jacket, crazy hat, and sunglasses and have them ring the doorbell. This gives you an opportunity to not only work on their door manners but help them gain comfort with strange-looking people. When your pup is calm and paying attention to you, have the dressed-up individual enter the home. Allow your pup to sniff and investigate without the person doing anything scary. Remember, we want these to be really good experiences not scary ones. If your pup is cautious or seems uneasy about approaching, you can give the pup treats and even have the person toss treats on the ground. If your pup continues to show signs of unease, have the person slowly take off the scary items and show them the familiar person they know inside! Let them investigate the scary items on the ground at their pace and make sure to give them plenty of tasty treats as they do so!
For more information on socializing your puppy during COVID, check out this article: https://scratchandsniff.ca/covid-and-puppies/?fbclid=IwAR3uP0n8cTFAHNflbF_mowBCwY55ChdmmoC4axZbUhMjO_dxrIYqpMhYxJQ
How can I take my dog to training classes with social distancing?
If you were hoping to take your dog or new puppy to training classes but COVID got in the way, don’t stress because you can do virtual training classes!
Many trainers have resorted to online classes. You can still do all the activities and learn all the skills without being in the classroom. Virtual training classes can offer a fun activity for you and your dog, the whole family can even join! If you are looking for a one-on-one session with a trainer, you can still do this as well. Many trainers are offering video consultations if you’re looking for help with specific behaviors.
If you are interested in finding a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for group classes or one-on-one consultations, email us at email@example.com for a list of recommended trainers!
It is normal for my pet to sleep this much?
With the family being home more than usual these days, many pets aren’t getting the same rest they used to. Cats and dogs sleep more than humans, on average, and most of our pets are used to a consistent routine – one where we leave for work or school for at least a few hours each day. Just like humans, our pets don’t function as well when they don’t get enough sleep.
Make sure you are giving your pets a quiet place to rest away from the family. And when your pet is resting, let them be. Just as you wouldn’t wake a sleeping baby, don’t wake a sleeping pet. Try to encourage young family members, who might be eager to interact with a pet, to wait until they wake up. They’ll be much more energized and ready to play or interact after a good rest!
Check out these resources for more information on dog and cat sleep patterns and needs:
Why did my pet develop this new and unpleasant behavior when we are home more?
Have you noticed your pet has developed a new and unpleasant behavior since the COVID-related changes?
While there are many potential causes for the different behaviors we see in our pets, some of the COVID-related changes could be having an impact on your pet. With family members being home more frequently and possibly having different and inconsistent schedules, this can cause your pet stress, confusion, or frustration. If you’re spending more time being active with your pet, they may need more rest than they used to. Try to keep a consistent schedule and routine for your pet. Make sure they have enough time to rest and that they have a quiet space away from the excitement of the family to catch up on undisrupted sleep.
If you are experiencing added stress in these times, your pet may be noticing this and could be affected, too, as some pets are sensitive to our emotions. Take this opportunity to do activities that will be healthy for your mind and body as well as your pets! Enjoy a peaceful walk together, grab their favorite toy, and play with them, learn how you can turn your touch into a massage for your pet.
Check out this link to see how to massage your pet:
- Dogs = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kbO2krzr0g
- Cats = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqtZQcn8Ll0
Join a virtual training class just for fun!
If you have a pet other than a dog, you can find great Youtube videos on training:
- Cats = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEGKQwV5xQ0
- Rabbits = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ho3mMkNhtm4
Check out these articles on preventing behavior problems in pets during COVID-19:
Educational Resources for Kids
Looking for something to do at home with your kids? Check out our educational resources below for colouring and activity sheets, craft tutorials and more!
Don’t have a printer at home? We will gladly mail the colouring pages and activity books of your choosing for a small donation to cover the cost of mailing. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Love crafts? Try these animal-themed crafts!
Click the link to view the step-by-step video:
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