Dog Behaviourist Explains How to Help Your Dog Cope During COVID-19 Lockdown Measures

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world have urged citizens to stay home as much as possible. The circuit breaker measures in Singapore have tightened as of 22 April 2020, in hopes of reducing the spread.

If you’re a pet parent, this means more time and companionship for our dogs! While they may not understand what’s happening, they notice both positive and negative changes.

Here are some challenges that pet parents and furkids may experience, and how to ensure a smooth transition back to “normal” life when the situation improves.

Challenge: Less structure in their day

Owner looking at dog in living room

In recent weeks, we’re enjoying more time together with our families and pets. But, it’s essential to provide our dogs with some structure and routine, to ensure a smoother transition back to “normal” when things improve.

The following suggestions are meant for dogs that are accustomed to being alone. If your dog has severe difficulties with staying alone normally, we recommend to get support from a certified dog trainer or dog behaviourist.

Solution 1: Give your dog some alone time

Dog resting by himself on cushion

On normal days, if you leave your dog at home alone, it’s best to give him the same amount of alone time now. For example, make sure that you give him some space to rest or play by himself.

Solution 2: Don’t allow your dog to follow you around the house

You can do this by going into another room in your home and close the door. This will discourage your dog from following you.

Another way would be to take a short walk around the house without your dog once in a while. Stay calm when you come out of or get back into the room. This will prevent any excitement and restlessness from your pet.

Solution 3: Reward them with a toy when you’re away

When you leave your dog alone, give him a toy filled with treats as a reward and distraction. This allows them to have a positive experience while you’re away.

Here are some West Paw treat toys that we recommend.

Recommended treat toyProduct information
West Paw Toppl Treat Dispensing ToyToppl Treat Dispensing Toy
• Ideal for gentler chewers
• Available in orange and blue
• Size: 8cm
Qwizl Puzzle Treat ToyQwizl Puzzle Treat Toy
• Suitable for aggressive chewers
• Available in orange, green and blue
• Sizes: 14cm, 17cm
Tux Treat ToyTux Treat Toy
• Suitable for aggressive chewers
• Available in orange, green and blue
• Sizes: 10cm, 13cm

Challenge: Lack of sufficient sleep

On average, an adult dog sleeps 12 – 14 hours/day, and puppies sleep up to 18 hours/day! With family at home all the time and increased household activities, our dogs could be lacking sleep.

This may result in out-of-the-norm behaviours such as being more irritated, overly excited or growling. Be patient with them if they start to exhibit such behaviours.

Solution 1: Provide a quiet space for your dog to rest

Dog sleeping soundly on blanket by himself

As pet parents, we have to give our dogs a safe space to recharge and sleep.

Provide them with an easily accessible but low traffic space to retreat to when they’re tired. One way is to place their dog bed or crate in the corner of an unused room.

Solution 2: Uninterrupted nap time

Let your entire family know that your dog needs his sleep and set some rules.

  • If he’s sleeping, no one is allowed to disturb him.
  • If it’s too difficult for your pet to withdraw from a distracting situation, offer him a treat toy away from the chaos. Once he’s finished the treats, it’s likely that he’ll go to sleep.

Helping your dog adapt to lockdown measures

Dog smiling

These measures are new to all of us, but they are necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19. Let’s do our part in staying home while ensuring the wellbeing of our loved ones!

What other challenges or concerns are you facing? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll address them!

This article was contributed by West Paw’s Dog Behaviourist, Rita Viel, and adapted by Pet Lovers Centre’s writing team.


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