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There’ve been lots of ideas going around on social media, some of them weird and not-so wonderful – Ben Fogle’s even been trying out doggie yoga on TV with his Labrador – so how do you know what’s for the best?
The team at No More Kennels luxury dog hotel in Warrington is expert at looking after its furry guests, so The Guide asked owner Rebeckah Vaughan to share her top tips for getting your dog safely through lockdown…
Don’t take your dog on a really long walk if they’re not used to it. Stick to your regular length walks, because suddenly increasing their exercise levels can be dangerous for them, especially if your dog is one of the brachycephalic breeds – flat faced dogs – such as bulldogs, Frenchies and pugs. We’d advise paying attention to the weather as well because even though it’s cooled off a bit now, when it’s very hot, as it has been for the past few weeks, dogs can overheat very quickly. The pavements also get very hot, so avoid walking your dog on them and keep them on grass as much as possible.
We love doggie birthdays here at No More Kennels so even during isolation, don’t forget to celebrate your dog’s big day. It’ll help cheer everyone up, including your dog!
There’s been a lot of discussion among animal behaviourists about how dogs are adjusting to lockdown and the risk of them developing separation anxiety when the restrictions start to be lifted and we leave them alone for longer periods again. This isn’t going to apply to all dogs, but inevitably it will to some. Separation anxiety is usually displayed through various behaviours, from excessive barking, howling and chewing to going to the toilet within the home or making escape attempts. We suggest implementing changes into your daily routine now which will hopefully help your dog to adjust a little better when we start returning to work or education.
Join the online Yoga classes supporting Refuge, the domestic abuse charity, in Merseyside
— The Guide Liverpool (@TheGuideLpool) April 28, 2020
Try giving your dog some time alone, away from you in a separate room, for up to half an hour at intervals throughout the day. If your dog does start to show signs of separation anxiety, try applying a counter conditioning method so they associate being alone with good things like treats or their favourite toys.
Every time you leave your dog alone, offer him or her a high-value treat such as a Kong toy filled with peanut butter. Remove them when you return so your dog knows they only have them when you’re not there. Keeping the TV or radio on for background noise is also proven to help reassure dogs when they’re being left alone.
That’s particularly important during these strange times. You can keep your dog’s brain active, either by using toys you already have at home or you can make a snuffle mat by using a grip mat from home or an old blanket. Hide treats in it because searching for them will help keep your dog stimulated. You can also put treats in Kongs and in little frisbees. Most dogs love to play with water too so a little bubble machine will keep them entertained.
Try to reduce your own stress levels because dogs can pick up on this and also become stressed and anxious.
If you’ve bathed your dog, or he’s got wet while you’ve been out walking, then when you dry him or her with a towel, make sure you’re just patting and squeezing the fur – if you rub it, you can put mats into the fur which can be really difficult to get out. When you’re drying your dog with a hairdryer, use an in and out, and up and down motion rather than a circular motion because this will keep the fur straight and avoid matting. There are lots of different brushes available, but we recommend a dematter to gently comb – if there are any mats, the comb will find them.
Hold your dog and comb the fur downwards rather than upwards as this will pull. Don’t spend any longer than 2-3 mins getting a mat out, because it’s distressing and it hurts the dog – if it takes longer, it needs shaving out. Don’t worry about long haired dogs in heat and panic because you can’t have them groomed in lockdown because the air will flow through the fur unless it’s matted.
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