With further information released today on the lockdown across the Bailiwick, including a review of how the 14-day period has gone, canine professionals had already been considering what this uncertain time means for our four-legged friends.
Those professionals wanted to reassure dog-owners that there are a number of things they can do to help their pet if they find themselves in self-isolation or quarantine due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Anna Jane Brehaut, founder and owner of Canine Behaviour Guernsey, said exercise is important but you must also follow the latest guidelines.
"The States Vet has confirmed that anyone who is required to self-isolate or is the subject to a quarantine order must not leave the house to walk their dog or attend to other animals. They may exercise them in their own private garden but if they have any animals located elsewhere, they are asked to make arrangements for someone else to care for them while they cannot.
We understand that owners may have concerns about not being able to exercise their dogs outside of the house, however it is important for the safety and health of the island’s community that we all listen to the government’s guidelines.
As such, we have put together our top five tips to ensure our dog’s needs are still being met even if they cannot go for walks.
In normal day-to-day life, it is part of a dog owner's routine to go for at least one walk a day. Exercise is indeed important to the welfare and wellbeing of our dogs. However, we are not in a period of normality and it is essential that those who are being told to self-isolate or quarantine listen to the powers that be for the safety of islanders.
Pictured: Anna Jane Brehaut and her dog, Murphy.
Our dogs are more resilient than we sometimes believe - they will survive without a daily walk for a week or two if needs be. Dogs are quite often placed on ‘box rest’ if they are injured or are poorly and rest days are also advised on occasions for those suffering from extreme anxiety.
However, if our dogs are not going for walks we do need to make sure that their needs are met in other ways. That is why we have devised our top tips - to help people understand those needs and how they can meet them.
TOP FIVE TIPS:
Play is both mentally and physically stimulating for a dog. Get the toy box out, make it fun and enjoy some games of tug of war, fetch & retrieve and hide & seek!
Dogs were born to use their nose and sniffing is a great mental workout for them. If walks are off the table, it is important that we give our dogs an outlet to use this natural behaviour. Scatter-feeding and hiding food/treats in boxes and around the house are all great ways to do this.
Remember all those tricks and cues that you’ve always wanted to train your dog to do? Well, now is your chance! Fancy spins, leg weaves or even shutting the door! Keep sessions short, frequent and fun and use hands-off, positive reinforcement techniques. (If you’re worried about treat consumption, use their food to train or reduce meal portions accordingly).
It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of the pandemic but what we forget is the impact this might have on our dogs. They will sense our stress. So encourage calm wherever possible. Give yourself regular breaks, breathe, snuggle up and spend some quality time with them relaxing.
Remember regular toilet breaks
Some dogs are not that great at letting us know when they need the toilet so it’s important we give them regular access to the garden or a safe space so they can do their business. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Pictured: Dogs at the GSPCA animal shelter. (file image)
In addition to the top tips, Canine Behaviour Guernsey is also offering two online training programmes, which include enrichment ideas, ways owners can exercise their dogs in the home as well as activities to keep their dogs mentally stimulated. Two webinars are also planned, one for puppy owners and another looking at recall. A total of 20% of the proceeds from the webinars will go towards the GSPCA’s Crisis Fund.
Lorna Chadwick, GSPCA Welfare manager, agreed that it was important to ensure our pets mental and physical needs are met.
"We now have more time on our hands and therefore no excuse," she said.
"Owners can follow online programmes, watch webinars and spend time helping their dogs become happier pets; and in doing so reduce the likelihood of any behaviour problems arising out of frustration and stress during this difficult time.
"Invest in your pet and help them as much as they are no doubt helping you."
Canine Behaviour Guernsey can offer other advice on how to meet your pets needs or the programmes and webinars available.