Friday, March 13, 2020

Make self-isolation work for you and your dog!

Coronavirus. The new thing that is sweeping the world and not in a good way.

So we are being given plenty of advice on what to do and what not to do. 

  • Wash your hands. 
  • Catch your cough in a tissue. 
  • Don't touch things like card readers or door handles unneccesarily incase the infected got there first. 
  • Do wash your hands some more. 
  • Avoid big crowds. 
  • Avoid medium sized ones too... 

...and for the love of the Gods stop buying all the bastard bog roll - some of us actually need to get some, while you sit there on your 100% recycled paper, double quilted and embossed thrones, hoarding like an Andrex puppy with resource guarding issues. Have you ever wiped your arse on kitchen towel? It's like sandpaper. But worse because you can put your hand through it. And Juan Sheet is a bloody liar. And you have to be really careful to rip it up small enough to not block the loo up.

And what is it with pasta? Pasta shelves are empty but all the pasta sauce is still there? Are you planning huge and impressive banquets of pasta with a cheeky bog roll surprise? Count me out!

If we fall sick or are not planning to fall sick any time soon, one option is to self isolate.

But what of our dogs? Assuming we don't all fall ill and need to outsource some help to take care of them for us, they will still need us to do stuff with them and for them. On that note DO keep an eye on Great Aunt Mabel and her minature poodle Bitey Bessie, incase she gets sick and needs help - make sure they have a list of phone numbers to call. Yes, including yours.

Naturally the idiots that bought all the loo roll are now starting on the dog food. This doesn't mean go running out and buy the local shop out of their entire stock of complete crappios, but do have an extra tin or two handy just incase you have to pop back a second time to get some food. Have a nice little stock of things your dog CAN eat, meat, fish, veg etc - and be aware of things your dog can not have. Onions, chocolate, raisins, tree nuts to name but a few of the things NOT to feed. 

Home fed dogs are at a bit of an advantage right now as everyone has spent their money on pot noodles and tins of beans, (presumably to knock up some tasty little number, to go with all the bog roll pasta), so the fresh veg and meat counters were heaving full when I went shopping yesterday. Some dogs might enjoy the chance to spend a few days eating some nice fresh food, and you might find it easier than you think to prepare it, should the dog food cupboard run dry. 

If you own a dehydrator then great - you can dry some jerky during all the time you are now spending at home self isolating, and knock up some tasty little stews in the slow cooker for doggo while you are at it. Here is a nice little recipe book for dogs if you are stuck for ideas.

What about stuff to do? Well for your dogs, assuming you are healthy enough through it, this can actually be a brilliant time! 

CANINE ENRICHMENT- THE BOOK YOUR DOG NEEDS YOU TO READ by Shay Kelly, is absolutely packed with ideas for enrichment that you can do with your dog, to make their day more fulfilling and interesting. From stuffing toilet rolls with treats, to playing with food puzzles and more, there are enough ideas in there to keep your dog busy for weeks. Enrichment can be so much fun, and should be a part of your every day life, not just your Coronavirus war effort. Why not use this time to set up new fun things and play habits to carry on doing from now on?

Absolute Dogs have a range of downloadable books and DVDs, which as a PDT I am obviously going to recommend as I find them brilliant. If you have a behaviour issue you would like to work on, now is an excellent time to start. Although I am only doing 121s over Skype etc with new clients for a little while, there is nothing to stop people doing work on many things. I would advise speaking to a professional before trying to deal with aggression, and always supervise dogs around children. But, issues like a lack of confidence, or optimism, separation issues or maybe working on your loose leash walking etc - well you are in luck because now is your perfect time to be getting on with it. do get in touch if I can help you! 

For dogs that are very nervous, this time can be perfect for bucket emptying, and for doing gentle games that boost confidence, so that when you are back to your more busy life, your dog can be better prepared and well rested, which can only be a good thing. Now is a perfect time to learn Canine Massage , or to start using a thundershirt, or to start using scents like Pet Remedy to create a relaxing atmosphere. If you need advice on how to achieve this, do ask.

Canine grooming and husbandry can be a complete pain in the arse too, but with your new found self-isolation time, you can really spend hours teaching your dog that a (very gentle) swipe of the brush or the nail file, is really not that terrible. Swipe. chicken. swipe. chicken. swipe. chicken. You get the idea. Heck - you could even go all out and give them a bath. Let them have a pile of old towels to dive into and roll about to get dry on afterwards and they will wear themselves out nicely.

Lastly - yes you CAN walk the dog. You do not have to avoid all contact with life outside your front door. Just don't go to overcrowded places, don't be touching outside surfaces and then sticking your fingers in your mouth, and do wash your hands (and occasionally wipe the door handles too) when you get back in! A nice walk in the fresh air will do you good, mentally and physically. If you are worried about your dogs paws spreading the virus if he hops up on benches etc, pop a little bottle of water and his usual shampoo by the door and wash his feet and face on the way back in. Job done. It's just a case of being sensible.

This is a scary time for many of us, especially those who are likely to be worst affected by Coronavirus, and their families. We can't see who is going to fall ill, or how badly. We don't know if time off school will mean bad exam results, or if time off work will be a disaster for our finances, or how long all of this will go on for. Rather than going off out doing things that do not need to be done, like having fights over packs of bog roll in crowded supermarkets, why not spend the time at home making the most of it? Yes - it is not a holiday, and yes, it is not going to be easy. But we can make it seem a little easier just with a little reframing and a positive frame of mind, solution seekers!

UPDATE - since writing this, the UK has been put into lockdown. Many vulnerable people now should not be out walking, and those that do go out for some exercise should be VERY cautious about keeping distance from others and practicing good hygiene. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE RISKS.
Stay safe. xxx