A whopping 51% of dogs in the UK have been affected by the pandemic and have isolated with their owners prior and during the current ‘pindemic’, according to new research by YuMOVE.
The research, which polled 2000 dog owners across the UK, revealed that over a quarter have been targeted in the last two months by the ‘NHS Covid 19’ app or similar.
With almost a fifth currently in self-isolation, and 64% having to rely on their support network to walk their dog, over half of UK dog owners are worried about how they would care for their dog if pinged.
When pinged, 54% of dog owners are confused about the current self-isolation guidelines when it comes to the welfare of their four-legged friends.
Almost two fifths (39%) are unsure if they are allowed to walk their dog themselves and nearly a third are unsure if someone else can walk their dog.
Whilst over half of dog owners err on the side of caution and are keeping their pooches at home during their self-isolation period, 45% of dog owners admitted they are more worried about the mental and physical impact of isolation on their dog than themselves.
Nearly two fifths are worried that their dog is not mentally stimulated enough during isolation, with 40% concerned if their dog is happy being at home more than normal. Nearly half (47%) are worried if their dog was bored due to being less active and 62% are worried if their dog is getting enough exercise.
In order to keep their dogs fit, healthy and entertained during isolation, 48% of dog owners are finding alternative ways to keep their dogs active including online exercise videos 15%, obstacle courses 19% and 4% even started dog yoga.
Dog Trainer and YuMOVE ambassador, Anthony Clarke said: “It can be a worrying time if you are told to self-isolate and you don’t have friends, family or neighbours to rely on to help care for your dog. It’s great to see so many UK dog owners getting creative and looking for alternative ways to keep their dogs fit and healthy – both mentally and physically – during isolation. Something as simple as creating an at-home obstacle course can really get your dog’s heart pumping and their joints moving. It’s also important that your dog’s joints are supported throughout their life.”
To ensure dog owners are making the most of their dog walks and that their pooch pals are getting enough mental and physical stimulation whilst at home, Anthony Clarke has shared his top tips to ensure you have a happy and healthy dog:
What are some simple exercises every dog owner can practice with their dog at home in the garden?
There’s a number of exercises every dog owner can do at home in their garden that your dog will enjoy. A selection of the most popular include basic recall, sit and stay, teaching your dog multiple static positions like sit, lie down and stand, hide and seek, hunt and search for food or toys, sending your dog around an object, fetch and retrieve, sending the dog to a relaxing area or bed.
What are some simple exercises every dog owner can practice with their dogs at home if they don’t have access to a garden or private communal space?
A lot of the above exercises are also great for dog owners to do with their dogs in the house just on a smaller scale, in house wellbeing activities and basic tricks like give a paw, spin left and right, weave between your legs. You can also use multiple rooms to add variety, teaching the dog activities like closing a door and retrieving the TV remote or your slippers.
If a dog is barking more whilst it’s at home, how can you change that?
You should think about giving the dog more mental stimulation, the above will help mentally but physical activities will also tire your dog out. Also, as a separate exercise and part of your dog’s education, teaching them how to relax when in the house is vital. With people being around more, the dog may become more needy so taking them to a safe place like their crate, or a room/area they see as their own may help them to become calmer and more relaxed.
How do you know if a dog is bored?
Different behaviours start to increase such as trying to gain your attention, becoming destructive, not settling, barking and whining, chewing, becoming agitated, irritating and not wanting to leave you alone.
How do you reintroduce dogs to other dogs/people if they become nervous?
Try and introduce them to dogs and people you already know so you understand the individual dog or persons behaviours and temperament. Don’t allow your own dog to charge up to random dogs and people – your dog may be friendly but that doesn’t mean they have the right to greet and meet others that might not be until you have asked permission of the other dog owner.
After spending so much time together at home, how can you help dog with separation anxiety?
Whilst you’re still at home, rehearse having the dog in a different room or in a different area so that the dog has time away from you. Then move onto leaving the dog when you go out for short periods of time, and gradually build up the duration again. Even leaving your dog in the kitchen while you go upstairs to take a shower is a good rehearsal exercise.
How do you teach a dog new behaviour?
Start with step-by-step bite sized training exercises with positive reinforcement and education using a high-level food or toy reward the acknowledgement of good behaviour will encourage the dog to offer this behaviour again.