Updated: Jun 12
Covid Crisis with my canine!
You had hoped your dog would be ok, because they were before this blasted virus appeared. Maybe it will just work itself out and things will settle, you will get more energy as you adjust and your dog will adjust too.
Maybe, maybe not.
Leaving things to chance means that not only are you feeling guilty in the short term but your dog is becoming more practiced at feeling anxious and not getting the exercise it needs so the habit is even harder to break, then you feel even more guilty because you could have done something about it sooner.
‘Shoulda, coulda, woulda’
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but doesn’t help you right now.
Maybe you didn’t have a dog before lockdown and now things are starting to move toward a new normal your new puppy or dog just isn’t prepared for it.
What do you do?
You are left with many options –
1. Stop work & never leave the dog
2. Grin and bare it, hope things will turn out for the best
3. Rehome the dog
4. Get another dog to keep it company
5. Get a family member or friend in to help
6. Send the dog to daycare
7. Get a dog walker
8. Get a Hound Hiker & Team HH to support you.
That’s a lot of options and most of them are very risky longer term, let’s go through them.
Brilliant! Good for you if you can afford to, but that’s not going to help you when you have to leave the dog behind in an emergency or you get stuck somewhere and can’t get home when you planned just to pop to the shop (breakdown etc) unless you put the work in to get your dog used to these situations. If you put the work in slowly and carefully and you can afford to stop work and stay home then that’s truly amazing and wonderful for both you and your dog.
Grin and bare it, hope things will turn out for the best
Yes, things may turn out for the best naturally, but it is unlikely. If it does how long will it take? How many days is your dog feeling anxious and scared and frustrated when you leave, how much stress are you putting on them until they might decide actually its ok? How many complaints from the neighbours due to barking, and how many items will you have to replace or repair that your dog has damaged in all out panic that you aren’t there. How much did that new flooring cost that your dog has now chewed up?
If you leave it and your dog develops true separation anxiety my advice is to always consult a professional. This is very costly and time consuming, it’s not a quick process, nor is it an easy path to take. I want to make it clear that any qualified and experienced trainer or behaviourist will first advise a vet check if you suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, once they get the all clear from the vet and they are diagnosed with true separation anxiety the first step is to build up their confidence slowly and not to leave the dog unattended at all initially. This is highly impractical for most. So please do not let it get to this point.
Rehome the dog
No responsible dog owner wants to do this, this isn’t really an option nor should it be (or at least it shouldn’t be for this reason). None of us want to add to the rescue dog issue.
Get another dog to keep it company
They call me the multidog maven, that’s my speciality, multi dogs…. Seriously, please don’t add another dog if you don’t have the time for one.
While yes this will often help with separation anxiety, it won’t always. When it does help, without careful work, lots of training and additional time with the two dogs both together and separately, you are heading for too many other issues that come with having more than one dog. I have done it, I have 5 currently and I have made all the mistakes under the sun over the years, it always comes back to the more dogs you have the harder work it is. I get the temptation to add another, and to maybe to help the local rescue out by bringing one home to lighten the burden. This is rarely the best decision for you, for the rescue dog or for your existing dog.
Get a family member, neighbour or friend in to help
This can really work, whether they are coming into your home or you are taking your dog to them (though please see the day-care section if they are spending all day at another place as many of the same issues can occur). However what about when said person cannot help, or if they become ill, go on holiday etc? You may give them a little something for their trouble but there will always be that underlying feeling of burden that you are on them. Short term maybe, but longer term this rarely work as things get complicated, hassle or their circumstances change. They feel bad for telling you they can’t help anymore and it puts strain on your relationship with them. You don’t know how long you will need their help for either so it’s hard to plan.
Send the dog to daycare
Plenty of dog daycare centres around right? That’s what they are there for.
The daily travel on route to and from work to drop off and collect your dog aside, your dog is not learning how to be home alone. Yes they will come home tired (the right kind of tired or flat out exhausted?). Often they come home flat out exhausted and this isn’t helpful to their wellbeing at all, but what about when your dog has the squits and can’t go to daycare? Will your boss let you have the day off? Do you have someone who can sit with them all day when you are at work that day at short notice?
Responsible and the best daycare is often very pricy. If they are doing it right, there will be lots of staff and the ratio of dogs to people should be around 6 dogs to one person. There should be set times each day for the dogs to sleep and switch off. There should be a clear routine and plenty of games (not just wanging a ball around all the time) and mental stimulation to get the dogs to focus on the staff rather than each other. If all you can see is one area (either indoor or outdoor) for the dogs with little else in there other than a couple of toys, possibly a childs climbing frame then steer clear.
It’s really common to see an increase in your dog pulling toward other dogs, maybe barking and lunging when you take them out once you have used day care for a while too. This is because they spend so much time freely with other dogs at daycare that they then become very frustrated on lead when they see other dogs as they want to go and play and the lead prevents this, the frustration can often turn into aggression as they don’t know how to contain themselves. A little like us if we are really wound up about something, we are more likely to snap at those closest to us.
Get a dog walker
Yes, this can help! Do your homework and see my other blog on finding the right one for you (you can find that here). However, please consider that dog walking is not a regulated industry, so there are as many cowboys as there are ok or good ones out there. There are many that give the industry a bad name by turning up but not walking the dogs, walking the dogs but not for the full time paid for, or walking them without the right experience or capability to read dog body language and cause more harm than good. Sometimes through their own naivety and sometimes as they see it as easy money and don’t truly care for the well-being of the individual dog. Your dog who is your family and your world. I hear of so many horror stories, to be careful and interview anyone who may be walking your dog. As I say there are some good ones out there but it’s hard to know who is, I certainly would not go for the cheapest as these are often the worst, or new to the business or just doing it for some extra cash as a hobby. It is an absolute minefield as they will all claim to love dogs, be insured and police checked, possibly a first aid certificate – they all look the same on the outside!
Consider what happens if they breakdown or they are on holiday or sick, who will care for your dog then?
A note if you have a puppy or a dog under 12months of age and looking for a dog walker – If they offer to take your dog out for an hour with other dogs they are not the right fit for you or your dog and will do more harm than good! Puppies should not be walked for an hour as they will damage their joints and physical development as they are still growing. You would not expect to take a small child up Ben Nevis, and this is the same as a puppy on an hours walk. A puppy out with a group without very careful supervision and training will also turn into a dog who is obsessed with other dogs and likely to develop behaviour issues.
It’s very common to see the same problems as what I have described with daycare if the dogs are taken out in groups and allowed to play and chase for the whole time they are out.
Get a Hound Hiker & Team HH to support you
Firstly let me list all the things that daycare and what dog walkers don’t provide that HH do.
Cover in case of illness, breakdown or holiday, cover by our team that you and your dog have met and trust beforehand.
A maximum of four dogs together out in the public and six dogs if at our own secure paddock
A careful and planned out program for dogs and puppies under 12 months including training, play and suitable exercise.
Pictures and videos with a report after each Hike.
Suitable care provided even when your dog is ill.
Games, mental stimulation and training as part of the Hike
A better behaved dog using positive and kind methods.
Varied routes and types of hikes.
Highly qualified team, always learning more to help you and your hounds in new ways
13years in business, far from a hobby!
Solo Hikes available
Special considerations and extra care taken for behaviour issues to help them make progress.
All of the above from an award winning team, who will always have your dog’s best interests at heart, never putting profits before pets. Who look at the bigger picture and know how things can affect your dog’s behaviour both short and long term. No need to feel guilty at leaving them, in fact clients are often jealous of their dogs social life and adventures with us. Receiving the videos and pictures of their dogs having the best fun out on hikes while they are at work in the office is often the highlight of their day! Getting to come home to a tired and relaxed dog each day is just the icing on the cake. The dogs learn to be patient for their Hound Hiker to arrive each day to be taken out and return tired both mentally and physically, ensuring they are settled being left home alone. Often even without trying or specific training we help with hounds who previously suffered travel anxiety, separation anxiety, pulling on lead, coming back when called, barking at other dogs, confidence issues.. the list is endless.
HH is owned and run by an expert trainer Sarah, so she always on hand to help when needed and ensure that even when not training, the HH team are backing up any training work and keeping your hound on track.
Every dog wants to be a Hound Helpers dog and here’s why…
Benji is a rescue dog and has always been very wary and nervous on walks. Since starting group Hikes with Hound Helpers he has grown in confidence which is so nice to see. Sarah and her team are always willing to help us when needed and we couldn’t be happier with their fantastic service.
The team at HH offer an exceptional service - including dog walking, grooming, as well as training and expert advice as and when required. The staff are always friendly, professional and reliable and clearly know our dogs well. I love the pup-dates when they’re out on walks - it’s so lovely to see what they’ve been up to with their fluffy friends!
I would highly recommend Hound Helpers - and so would Molly and McMillan! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (and two waggy tails).
Sarah and her team have helped us raise our dog Bailey, from a puppy. Puppyhood was a huge challenge. Sarah helped me to remain calm and in control and provided me with expert, practical tips to help with specific problems that arose.
Bailey sits at the window every day, waiting eagerly for his Hound helpers hike to begin. The daily pictures inform us of how he’s got on and give an insight of the fun he’s had, often swimming, off lead fun and games, catching a ball etc. The walks are varied and exciting.
Bailey is also groomed by Hound helpers. I have always been able to book in a regular slot. The groom is well done and Sarah always reports back on how he’s managed and behaved.
Hound helpers provide a very efficient, friendly service that’s good value for money. I also always feel able to ask for advice and support when needed and so would recommend Hound helpers to anyone looking for dog walking, training and grooming services.
We are currently accepting applications for our highly sought-after Hikes in Evesham, Pershore and the areas between. Get in touch now to discuss how we can help make your life easier!
You can grab your free Hound Hack eBook here too!