Now that many of us are relegated to working from home, it’s important to understand that it’s not just our lives that have changed. Your dog’s routine and care are likely very different now, and this is the time to begin planning how your dog’s behavior and health will change as a result of the disruption we have in our lives.
We’ve previously outlined the benefits of having a dog walker while working from home, including increased productivity for you and dedicated social and physical time for your dog. Now, we’d like to point out a few things to keep in mind during COVID-19 and as we start to plan our post-COVID lives.
We hope the following considerations help you plan for your dog’s well-being now and for the next phases of the COVID-19 crisis.
Managing your dog’s mental and emotional health
Dogs thrive with routine and guided activity. Walking exercises a dog’s body and mind. Dogs get a lot of mental stimulation on a walk by watching squirrels or birds, taking a slightly new route, or finding new smells with every season. Dogs also benefit emotionally from dedicated social time via one-on-one care. Mid-day mental and emotional stimulation makes it less likely your dog will display unwanted behaviors like barking while you’re working.
Separation anxiety may develop from so much time at home
Many dogs in Chicago are rescues and have separation anxiety because of their pasts. While your current in-home time is likely staving off separation anxiety for the time being, it’s important to remember that your dog doesn’t know you’ll one day go back to an office or out to dinner.
If your dog does not suffer from separation anxiety, be aware that it could develop after this extended stay-at-home time. Dog walks from another person are one way to help prevent separation anxiety, particularly if your dog walk routine is continuous during this time and when you begin leaving your home again. Mid-day dog walks from a professional walker both set up a routine your dog can predict as well as provide a consistent and comfortable way for them to separate from you daily.
Routine makes behavior better and transition easier
The routine of a dog walker adds consistency through transitions in your life. We know that between the hours of 9-5, you may very well be too busy to give your dog the walk it needs. Scheduling professional dog walks during the middle of the day gives you the peace of mind that your dog has had his or her physical and mental needs met. This means you can feel less pressure to run out right at 5pm for a walk because your dog has been couped up for eight hours. With scheduled mid-day walks, you can head outside with your dog for enjoyment before and after working hours without the guilt of short-changing your dog.
Having a dog walker ensures your dog gets its basic needs met and takes the pressure off you. But you should make every effort to take walks with your dog as well. As we all grapple with social distancing and concern over our own health and that of our family and friends, now more than ever, you can realize the physical and mental benefits of getting outside with your dog.
Adding a canine family member during COVID-19
Shelters in Chicago have emptied out for the first time ever as people have looked to help dogs and themselves during this time!! Others have recently found puppies from other rescue organizations and breeders to add more joy to their families.
While this can be a great time to get to know and love your new family member and for them to integrate into your family, you should keep in mind that your new dog is learning a routine that won’t last. Continuity of some routines is even more important for a newly-adopted dog’s emotional and mental health as you begin to leave the home more regularly.
Professional dog walks, adherence to a morning schedule, making sure all family members participate in social bonding, and practicing separation in your home are all things to consider with your new rescue or puppy to help curb any anxiety or stress issues and ensure their long-term success with your family.