Dog trainer Anthony Clarke has shared his top tips to help ensure owners have a happy and healthy dog as more are forced to isolate at home.
To ensure dog owners are making the most of their dog walks and that their pooch pals are getting enough mental and physical stimulation while at home, Anthony has offered some advice.
It follows a poll by dog supplement brand YuMOVE of 2,000 dog owners across the UK looking at the effect of the current 'pingdemic' in relation to their dogs.
According to the research, 59 per cent of the dog owners polled in the South East were worried about how they would care for their dog if they were pinged.
Government advice on www.gov.uk states: 'If your animal cannot be exercised at home, you should ask someone outside of your household or support bubble to exercise your animal for you, or access exercising services provided by a professional.'
Anthony, who is also a YuMOVE ambassador, said: “It can be a worrying time if you are told to self-isolate and you don’t have friends, family or neighbours to rely on to help care for your dog.
“It’s great to see so many UK dog owners are getting creative and looking for alternative ways to keep their dogs fit and healthy – both mentally and physically – during isolation.
“Something as simple as creating an at-home obstacle course can really get your dog’s heart pumping and their joints moving.
“It’s also important that your dog’s joints are supported throughout their life, that’s why all of my canine athletes use YuMOVE to keep them happy and active for life.
Here are Anthony's top tips:
What are some simple exercises every dog owner can practice with their dog at home in the garden?
There’s a number of exercises every dog owner can do at home in their garden that your dog will enjoy.
A selection of the most popular include basic recall, sit and stay, teaching your dog multiple static positions like sit, lie down and stand, hide and seek, hunt and search for food or toys, sending your dog around an object, fetch and retrieve, sending the dog to a relaxing area or a bed.
What are some simple exercises every dog owner can practice with their dog at home if they don’t have access to a garden or private communal space?
A lot of the above outdoor exercises are also great for dog owners to do with their dogs in the house just on a smaller scale, in house well-being activities and basic tricks like give a paw, spin left and right, weave between your legs.
You can also use multiple rooms to add variety teaching the dog activities like closing a door and retrieving the TV remote or your slippers.
If a dog is barking more while it’s at home, how can you change that?
You should think about giving the dog more mental stimulation. The above will help mentally but physical activities will also tire your dog out.
Also, as a separate exercise and part of your dog’s education, teaching them how to relax when in the house is vital. With people being around more, the dog may become more needy so taking them to a safe place like their crate or a room/area they see as their own may help them to become calmer and more relaxed.
How do you know if a dog is bored?
Different behaviours start to increase such as trying to gain your attention, becoming destructive, not settling, barking and whining, chewing, becoming agitated, irritating and not wanting to leave you alone.
How do you reintroduce dogs to other dogs/people if they become nervous?
Try and introduce them to dogs and people you already know so you understand the individual dog or persons behaviours and temperament.
Don’t allow your own dog to charge up to random dogs and people. Your dog maybe friendly but that doesn’t mean they have the right to greet and meet others that might not be until you have asked permission of the other dogs owner.
After spending so much time together at home, how can you help dogs with separation anxiety?
While you’re still at home, rehearse having the dog in a different room or in a different area so that the dog has time away from you. Then move onto leaving the dog when you go out for short periods of time, and gradually build up the duration again. Even leaving your dog in the kitchen while you go upstairs to take a shower is a good rehearsal exercise.
What exercises would you recommend to keep elderly dogs fit and active?
Teaching them new mobility tricks such as getting them to move slowly with big sweeping circles, individual leg movements – lifting their right paw, left paw. When the dog stands up get them to move their head from side to side following a treat around towards their ribs, this will help with their flexibility. Constant movement is important even if it’s just walking them around the garden or house, so they keep mobile.
How can you make sure a dog is getting the most out of its walks?
Taking your dog out for a walk should incorporate a variety of training, mental and physical activities.
Take the dogs meal out on the walk and incorporate training and feeding at the same time. Building focus and interactive games while out with your dog will keep you exciting and the desire for your dog to want to play and be around you.
How do you know if a dog has had too much walking/activity or too little?
Many professionals recommend that for each month of your puppies’ life that should equate to five minutes of exercise.
Each individual dog will be able to handle different degrees of exercise, however signs to look out for that could indicate they’re tired is the dog may become lethargic, they start to avoid interaction with the owner and get distracted and wander off.
They could also show more obvious behaviours such as refuse to walk or not wanting to leave the position they’re in.
How do you teach a dog new behaviour?
Start with step by step bite sized training exercises and with positive reinforcement and education using a high level food or toy reward the acknowledgment of good behaviour will encourage the dog to offer this behaviour again.