Phew! It’s been a very busy few weeks across Victoria as life has finally returned all but completely back to normal (minus the wearing of face masks in certain places) in our fair state. Thank you to everyone who rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated, you’re the reason we’re all living a normal life again, doing those things we once took for granted before 2020!
However, we also know coming out of lockdown (something we’re all too familiar with here) can be a tiring experience, including for our furry friends who’ve gotten very used to us being at home by their side day after day.
On that note, The Pets Hotel team shares some handy tips to help your dog re-adjust to normal life and the presence of strangers once again. With plenty of patience and a little TLC, re-socialising your dog will help you both get the most out of the brighter days that lie ahead : )
- Tip 1: Be patient: Move at your dog’s own pace: Whilst some of us couldn’t wait to hit the pub as soon as lockdown lifted, others had completely understandable anxiety at the thought of being “out and about” amongst bustling crowds once again. Dogs are no different to us humans in that regard, so as we re-adjust to old habits, pay attention to your four-legged friend’s behaviour and aim to move at their own pace. Acting quiet and anxious? That’s a sure sign your dog will need a little more time to ease into the rhythm of everyday life after endless weeks bunkered down at home.
- Tip 2: Arrange one-on-one playdates: Following on from tip one, arranging one-on-one playdates between your dog and his/her furry friends is a great way to gradually ease them into the momentum of normal life again. By giving them the chance to interact with one other dog or at most, a very small tight-knit group, you’ll create a safe environment that will help them re-learn appropriate social behaviours before facing the demands of bigger crowds : )
- Tip 3: Establish a regular routine: As we gradually return to the workplace and get out and about ourselves far more often, it’s crucial to establish a new, regular routine for our four-legged friends to help them re-adjust to us not being at home 24/7. For example, if you know you’ll be working from the office on certain days, schedule that daily walk at a consistent time all week. Another good idea is to gradually leave your dog alone for 10-15 minutes at a time to help them deal with any inevitable separation anxiety.
- Tip 4: Familiarise them with face masks: One of the biggest and most overlooked aspects of re-socialising your dog after a long stint in lockdown is getting them familiar with the strange sight of the now ubiquitous face mask. Dogs being highly visual communicators need to see human faces to read our body language and gauge their own response. Not being able to ‘read’ our faces can cause considerable anxiety, which is why it’s vital to gradually introduce them to strangers wearing masks and reward them for remaining calm – an effective way to teach them that this behaviour (masked humans) is completely normal and non-threatening.
- Tip 5: Pay particular attention to puppies: If you have a cute little puppy at home, you’re probably aware of the short 3–14-week timeframe you have to properly socialise them, so they’re used to the presence of other humans and animals. If your puppy was born during lockdown or missed out on those vital opportunities to make other furry friends at a very young age, now is the time to regain lost ground by enrolling them in a Puppy Training School or basic Dog Obedience class. More than just an age-old tradition, a good obedience class or puppy training school will set them up with positive behaviours and a trusting nature that will carry them in good stead for life. Doggy Daycare is another great option for helping your pup (and dogs of any age for that matter) to properly socialise and enter the wider world on their own terms! : )
Keen to find out more about The Pets Hotel and our friendly team of professional cat and dog carers? Contact us at The Pets Hotel (Port Melbourne) on (03) 9646 3696 or The Pets Hotel Country Club (Lara) on (03) 5282 1286.