We are mid-way through the fourth week of lockdown and by now I would imagine you and your dogs are living a new normal. The days are different from start to finish for most of us and we are all adjusting to restrictions, change of lifestyle and being at home a lot more.
I have had messages from lots of you saying that your dogs are almost depressed, they lay around all day and don’t really do much but they are happy to get up and go for a walk or play or do some training, happy to engage. They are eating and in every other respect, seem normal but they just sleep so much more.
This is their way of adjusting. The first week or two they may have been a bit manic, a bit more over the top, getting into mischief, looking for ways to get attention. Most of our dogs, like us, led very different lives before lockdown and just like us, it has taken some time to adjust.
Dogs go to training classes, see their ‘mates’, enjoy different smells. They go to day cares or are collected by their dog walkers, see their ‘mates’ enjoy some games and stuff. They go to different places, even if, like my dogs, a lot of those visits are in the back of the van, they were still experiencing different smells and sounds even if they didn’t get out for a walk at wherever we were.
I noticed initially that I spent a lot more time focusing on training at home than I normally would, I usually do the lions share of my training at work rather than in my tiny little house. I spent a lot more time proofing exercises and adding more challenge to games in the house than I normally would have. I watched my dogs a lot more in the house than I usually would have. Coupled with the fact that they didn’t spend time in the van, they didn’t walk at any new places and they had to be lead walked to go for a run, which I rarely do with my dogs. All change, all different.
So many of you will have done the same thing, concerned that your dogs weren’t getting enough exercise, enough stimulation, and to combat your boredom, you will have over loaded the changes and tried to keep their lives the way they were before lockdown – we walk at 8am, we train this at that class on a Tuesday at 10am, we train this at that class on a Wednesday at 6pm and so on. But that isn’t normal anymore, that isn’t the life we are all living.
All change for my dogs, all different and all of that whilst they were adjusting to me and my partner being at home all day. Me wandering around like a lost sheep because I didn’t know what to focus on, didn’t know what to do with all this time I was now blessed with other than train my dogs.
Now, as we head into week four, the dogs and I are more relaxed. We all move in a different way, less manic, no rushing, we get there when we get there. Walks are as varied as I can make them as there isn’t much in my area other than flat grass or flat mud. We train what we want, when we feel like it and back to the short bursts that I always did train in, not the mammoth sessions I was trying to do in the beginning. Our walks are not just about burning off steam and stretching legs and muscles, they involve more thought and a lot more training than they did before, we play different games, stop and watch the world more.
We all needed time to adjust to the new normal and our dogs have done the same, so as long as they are happy to engage, go for their walks, play and interact then don’t worry, this is what is meant by a ‘dogs life’, lazing around for the best part of the day and then coming to life when they need to.
Stay safe and enjoy your relaxation, just remember that the same as us, when we get out of lockdown, they will be like a kid at Christmas, a little over excited and seriously over stimulated, so take it easy.