Today I wanted to post about how to boost your dog’s wellbeing after lockdown.
Having an only child during lockdown was an interesting experience. I often worried about how Flea was coping on her own.
But I suppose in some ways, Flea wasn’t ever completely on her own. If you’ve got a dog, then you’ll know that they treat our kids like their siblings and playmates. Teddy and Flea share a bond for life that’s based on tummy rubs, ear scratches and games of chase (we tried fetch, but Teddy considers retrieving toys to be beneath her).
This is a good thing. Teddy helped Flea to relax during lockdown, gave her comfort after a bad day, and a reason to get out of the house for a walk, if nothing else. And Flea gives Teddy endless affection and entertainment, as well as being a reliable source of sneaky pieces of cheese from the fridge.
But what about our pets’ wellbeing?
Did lockdown stress out your dog?
According to a survey of 1,000 pet owners by Purina UK, 49% of pet owners reported that their pets were stressed during or after lockdown. But only one in five consider that supporting their dog’s gut health and reducing stress by improving their wellbeing and happiness.
Purina’s research points to a link between a dog’s gut health and their overall happiness and wellbeing – dogs with a good diet tend to see a reduction in anxious behaviours. I know that providing a high-quality daily dog food for Teddy is also important in keeping her happy and energised. A well-fed Teddy is generally a more relaxed, better-behaved Teddy!
We are really lucky to live near a beach, so Teddy got LOTS of exercise during lockdown. But she definitely got anxious when we returned to school and work after months of being at home every day. She was a bit lonely, doing sad little wolfy howls at the window when I left to take Flea to the station.
Back to normal wasn’t easy for dogs
Because we were no longer taking three or four walks a day – because what else was there to do? – Teddy got a bit frustrated by the return of normal life. In the early days after lockdown ended, Teddy made cameos on quite a few work Zoom calls, because sitting on my lap was the only way I could get her to be quiet!
I totally get it. Our dogs had us all at home for months on end, and life was in a lovely routine. And now it’s not.
Anyone with a dog knows that they can be sensitive and react to stress and change. It can affect everything from their temperament to their eating habits. We made a decision to stick with one food and regular feeding times to help Teddy feel like not all of her routines had changed.
Reducing stress and frustration in dogs
The other key to reducing Teddy’s stress or frustration (and boosting her wellbeing) is lots of exercise and stimulation. Now we can get out and about, we make the effort to take her on longer walks, but I also got into the habit of taking her with me in the car when I collect Flea from the train station each day. Now it’s summer, we’re also spending more time in the garden – so far Teddy has spent more time in our new Egg chair than Flea!
It’s commonly said that dogs feel like part of the family, but it’s true. And that means I care about Teddy being healthy, but I also want her to feel relaxed and contented. So it’s important we know how to boost our dog’s wellbeing. Isn’t that the least they deserve?