How to go back into Dog Walking after Covid-19
During the last 12 months of mainly being in lockdown, dog owners have faced limited restrictions with dog walking. The threat of the COVID-19 virus and its unknown risks put a halt on our lives, going on ‘walkies’ was a luxury we couldn't afford. Walkies, the word that inspires so much excitement and tail wagging was suddenly and cruelly stolen by the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, with the numbers seemingly decreasing daily and the immensely successful roll of the vaccine in the UK things are looking up. With restrictions easing, walking the dog is a luxury we can now afford again. It’s time to get back into that dog walking routine we once had perfected and get your four-legged friend back out and living life in the great outdoors.
During the strict lockdown period, some people walked the dog around the garden (if they were lucky enough to have one big enough) or took their dogs on socially distanced strolls to the shop to top up on those essential supplies.
Others solved the problem by entrusting their pups and doggy friends with specialised shelters that could give them the space they needed to have daily run-outs. Others handed them over to their friends or relatives who had bigger gardens or more space. It’s sure been a tough time for dog owners and dogs alike.
Dogs, just like people, can become anxious for many reasons. One of the reasons is a change in their routine and surroundings. They are creatures of habit; they love familiarity and consistency, being comfortable in a routine they have built over months or even years.
Stepping out of it makes them feel confused, anxious and can affect their mood and general happiness, just like people. That sudden and dramatic change would have been a shock to their system and getting back to it might take a little time and patience.
Increased Working Flexibility
Things have changed in lockdown. It has forced businesses to reconsider working habits and locations. Because of the success of remote working, businesses are more comfortable with people working from home, or working in split locations and generally offering more flexibility to the weekly routine. Take advantage of this and use your lunch to go on 30 to 45-minute dog walks - it can really refresh you for the afternoon, and your dog will love that regular afternoon run out.
Understand Their Fears
As lockdown eases and we eventually return to normality, getting back into regular dog walks may become difficult, depending if work want you to return to the office. But remember, dogs love routine and hate being separated from their owners for long periods of time. Of course, venturing out on regular, sunny walks will help with this! Why not step into spring with our new Happy Houndstooth collection, our stunning and comfortable new harness with 5 star reviews.
Getting back into familiar and a comfortable dog walking with those fun, regular sunny (or rainy…) walkies will help. But every time you leave and close the front door, they’ll get that uneasy feeling of not being sure when they’ll see you again or be able to go out for walk.
That’s why you should try your best to get them back into the routine they are accustomed to, making them the happy, bouncy, wagging doggies you know and love.
Simply put, dogs love their routines. They are just like little humans, we are creatures of comfort and love a familiar, comfortable, consistent existence.
Create a consistent daily, dog walking routine and try to give them other consistencies, like getting their food at the exact time every day. Make a start with these small steps of regular short walks and a regular dinner times.
During the lockdown, someone else might have walked your dog, or they’ve been out playing in the garden or someone else’s yard. Either way, it would have been different and not what they’re used to, so now you need to retrieve the routine.
She or he might seem happy enough, but they’ll need to adjust back to regular dog walking. Some might slip right back into, and just be as happy as they can go on those stick chasing, log jumping, puddle splashing walks! Others, however, they might find it more difficult for a variety of reasons.
To help with that, you can start with short walks that will make them feel safe and get them familiar with going out again. Go down the same routes that have familiar surroundings, and don’t travel too far so it is unfamiliar or a totally new environment.
Offer them lots of reassurance and positive reinforcement along the walk. The anxiety that they might have experienced may push them into bad behaviour, and you may see small changes in their character.
This is ok and normal, don’t punish them for any out-of-character behaviour, as this is just a way for them to express their concerns and worries. Instead, take them on their regular, familiar walks, show them lots of attention and offer plenty of ‘good boy/girls’!
Try to stay off your phone or being too distracted when going on walks with your dog, show them you’re focused on them, give them pats, hugs and lots of attention - enjoy being back out on those walks with your best friend.
After a while, they’ll understand that things are going back to normal, you are not going to forget about them and that walkies are back to stay.
We’ve all been affected by lockdown, the impact has been far-reaching and deep. It’s unnatural to be locked up in our houses for weeks at a time. This is even more difficult for dogs, who wouldn’t have understood why this has been a necessary step. They rely on interaction, reassurance, affection and physical activity, they need to run, play, jump and spend that built up energy and excitement. Start with getting back into familiar routines, offer lots of reassurance and hopefully COVID will be a thing of the past and we can all back to living our lives to the fullest once again– including going dog walking!