Dogs provide unconditional love and companionship, and humans benefit from their presence with increased happiness, better health, and lower stress levels. Is it possible to pay dogs back for all they do? Well, one of the unexpected benefits of the COVID-19 pandemic is that dog owners can more fully return the favour. All this time at home means more time with your pet and more opportunities to enrich their lives as much as they enrich yours.
Dogs are social creatures. They thrive in the company of others. Some research even suggests dogs crave time with their humans more than with other dogs. Before the pandemic, most dogs spent time alone. Sometimes for a few hours while their owner ran errands, but often for the entire workday. Now, in this time of COVID-19, many people are working from home, so dogs get to enjoy attention 24 hours a day. And they love it! There is always somebody around to spoil them, feed them, or give them belly rubs.
Time to train
More time at home also means more time to train your dog which strengthens their manners and provides them with structure. When your dog knows what you expect, it reduces confusion and stress. The more you teach them, the happier they will be. Plus, dogs need mental exercise as much as physical exercise, and all this extra training provides a fantastic workout for your dog’s brain.
Time to play games
Whether it’s a homemade agility course, a game of fetch, or simply wrestling, playing with dogs is downright fun. Their enthusiasm and exuberance are contagious. Thankfully, the pandemic has provided people with more time to revel in these antics. And all this playtime is good for dogs too. It provides both a mental and physical workout, much needed social interaction, and boosts the dog-owner bond as well.
Possible issues post COVID-19
Although people are desperate for an end to the pandemic, it’s unlikely dogs feel the same way. However, once you’re able, you’ll return to working at the office or heading to the mall for a day of shopping, leaving your dog alone in the process. And the more that things open, the more you’ll return to your old hobbies and habits, leaving even less time for your pet. With reduced attention and stimulation, dogs will look for their own ways to pass the time. You might find your dog developing undesirable habits like tearing up pillows or chewing on shoes. These destructive behaviours don’t just give your dog something to do, they alleviate stress as well.
Separation anxiety is another concern post COVID-19. You need to teach your dog how to pass the time on their own, otherwise it can cause great distress. If you adopted your dog during the pandemic, they might never have been alone before. And dogs who used to be comfortable on their own might have forgotten how to cope. Ease into your return to regular life with very short absences and provide your dog with wonderful activities, like a bully stick or food stuffed Kong, to enjoy while you’re away.
A new normal with your dog
Instead of returning to your old way of life when the pandemic ends, look at all the wonderful ways you’ve bonded with your dog while you’ve been stuck at home. Then do what you can to continue those patterns. Be aware of your dog’s social needs, have short training sessions every day, and enjoy regular games and play. Your dog got you through the pandemic, so look out for your best friend when it’s over.