8 ways to ease your dog out of lockdown – plus win food for dogs

The UK has experienced a very strange and difficult few months, and it’s not just humans that have been impacted.

Dogs have also been living through the current pandemic and our canine companions have had to adjust to a new normal.

For most dog owners, the coronavirus crisis and subsequent lockdown has meant spending more quality time with their pets and this has made the bond with our dogs stronger.

However, as life has changed for us, it has also changed for dogs and they will need to adjust to life after lockdown.

Sue Williams, who is internationally renowned for her expertise in dog training and behaviour modification, is keen to help dog owners with this transition.

Sue has been training dogs for more than 20 years and she is a full member of the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association (CFBA) and chairwoman of the Guild of Dog Trainers. She has received many calls from dog owners worried about the repercussions of lockdown.

Although the majority of dogs will easily adjust to life again when their owners return to work, there are things that an owner can do to make the transition a smooth process.

Is your dog Britain’s finest lockdown pet?

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Here, Sue explains eight ways to make sure a dog doesn’t become overdependent, as this can result in behavioural issues and separation anxiety.

Dogs tend to relate to triggers and this can cause stress. For example, dogs will associate something happening with their owner going out, like picking up car keys or getting a handbag. Remove these triggers by picking up keys and then putting them down again. This will desensitise your dog and those triggers won’t mean anything to them anymore.

2. Go out without your dog

During lockdown, we were unable to go out more than once a day, so naturally we would take our dog with us. Now that lockdown is easing, remember to go out on your own and see how your dog reacts during this time. This will highlight if your dog has become overdependent.

3. Set up a camera in your home

If you are worried about separation anxiety, try leaving a camera running in your home to see how your dog reacts when you leave. If your dog lies down and settles after a couple of minutes then you will know it is okay.

4. Try not to worry

Sometimes we are guilty of worrying about our dogs as we love them so much. However, this worry can cause anxiety within our dogs as they often reflect our feelings.Try to be positive around your dog and don’t worry about a problem unless you see signs of separation anxiety.

5. Give your dog a toy

Before you leave the house without your dog, give them a toy or something to take their mind off the fact you are leaving. A good tip is also to leave one of your t-shirts in the dog bed, as the scent can act as a comforter for your dog.

6. Don’t make a big deal about leaving the house

It can be easy to fuss your dog before you go anywhere, but try not to make a deal about leaving. Instead, be as natural as possible. Most dogs will pace for a few minutes and then they will probably spend the rest of the time relaxing.

7. Ask a family member to spend time with your dog

When you go back to work for the first time after lockdown, try not to leave your dog for eight hours on its own. If possible, ask a family member or dog walker to visit your dog and give it some company. This will help with the transition.

8. Speak to the professionals

Finally, if you have tried all of these tips and you are still worried about your dog contact a behaviourist for advice. There are people all over the UK who are on hand to help, so don’t forget to get in touch if you have any concerns.