Covid19 coronavirus social distancing restrictions in place across the UK at the time of writing (April 2020) look set to continue in some shape or form for many months to come, and the impact that they are having upon every one of us is significant and varied.
It might not occur to all dog owners but it is still very much the case that the restrictions in place are also affecting our dogs too, in a number of different ways that are both obvious and more subtle.
Whilst there is little that we can do about many of these, being aware of how social distancing affects dogs can be useful information for dog owners, as it provides an insight into canine behaviour and wellbeing.
With this in mind, this article will discuss how Covid19 social distancing restrictions can affect dogs. Read on to learn more.
Many dogs that were used to getting several daily walks, or even just spending a lot of time out and about with their owner in general, have come in for a big shock of late. Being restricted to exercising once a day means just one daily walk for some dogs, although multiple family members can also mean multiple walks; which in itself might be different from the norm.
People generally keeping each other at a distance as well as being out and about less than normal also means fewer dogs around, particularly in the places where both people and dogs commonly go to congregate, like parks.
This in turn means less chances for dogs to socialise with each other, which they are apt to feel quite acutely as dogs are a very social species.
How people interact and react to each other has undergone a large, rapid shift in the last couple of weeks alone. Now, we instinctively move back from each other and avoid contact, and this seems plenty weird to many of us, so imagine how confusing it must be for your dog!
This is especially true if people they know and are used to greeting now move away from rather than towards them to reduce contact between themselves and you as the dog’s owner.
Few people’s routines have remained exactly the same as normal, even for people who are still going out to work. This has had a knock-on effect on our dogs’ routines too, and as creatures of habit, this is very confusing for dogs and can be quite unsettling; particularly if new routines are not being established in their place.
Maintaining the usual rules and parameters that your dog lives within can help to keep them on an even keel, but with many of us at home a lot more and having less to do, this can lead to a gradual apathy and bending of the rules in place for the dog’s behaviour.
Whether this means letting the dog on the sofa, feeding them too many treats, or just being less strict about good behaviour, allowing your dog’s behaviour to slip does neither of you any favours!
Being at home continually with no respite from the children is something many of us find challenging towards the end of the school holidays, but this is even more acute now when there is nowhere that you can take the children and only a limited number of ways to entertain them.
How does this relate to dogs? Well, children and dogs can be great at entertaining each other, diverting boredom and finding ways to stay occupied, but they can also be a recipe for disaster when mixed too!
Bored children might tease or annoy a dog or simply irritate them by being noisy, and even dogs and children that get on really well can be a problem if they’re all getting up to mischief together or for instance, the children decide the dog needs a haircut.
If you’re breathing a sigh of relief because both the children and the dog are quiet for once… Don’t relax too soon, this might mean that they’re up to no good!
Everyone is finding the current social distancing restrictions hard, and also, these are worrying times as well. This is having an impact on our moods and interactions with each other, and with our dogs too.
It is totally natural that many of us are more irritable and have a shorter fuse than normal, but your dog will pick up on this (particularly if they feel the impact of it) and it will have a knock-on effect on them as well.
Finally, if you’re trapped at home without work or even if you’re home working, it can be really hard to stay motivated about finding things to occupy your mind, taking the opportunity to exercise when you can, and generally avoiding the urge to just stay on the sofa all day!
If this is happening to you your dog will feel it too, and this might result in them being lazier than normal as well, or perhaps going the other way and being harder work than normal as they look for ways to tackle their inevitable boredom.