Many pet owners are struggling with hyper and anxious dogs due to the social distancing measures put in place to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This article explores some of the solutions to help your dog get through this crisis without leaving the house.
#1: Physical Exercise for Your Dog While Quarantined
The first thing to address if your dog is bouncing off the walls is physical exercise. Getting the body moving, for both humans and dogs, plays a critical role in reducing stress all the way down to the cellular level.
According to researchers at Harvard, “Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators.”
However, dog owners are facing unique challenges during COVID social distancing. Many of our “go to” places to get our dogs a great work out are closed. Dog parks, national and state parks, and public spaces such as your regular dog walking grounds may be closed.
Here are some tips to get your pooch moving without leaving the house:
Have everyone in your household take turns calling your dog and then reward her for coming with treats and praise. Start in the same room, but then increase the difficulty by going into different rooms or even different floors of the house to increase the aerobic benefits of this fun game.
Indoor Obstacle Course
Use everyday items in your house to build a fun obstacle course for your dog. Examples include jumps, weave poles, tunnels, down mats, and crawl under obstacles. Train each obstacle on its own, then put them together for a fun workout that will get your dog’s blood pumping.
If your dog already knows how to play fetch, then this game offers a great way to get your pooch active indoors. Consider lining a hallway with some jumps and tossing the ball to the end, giving your dog some added exercise during a fun indoor game of fetch.
If you happen to have one of the more athletic breeds from the herding or working groups who is used to getting a ton of outdoor exercise, you may want to consider training your dog to use the treadmill. For a solid workout with particularly hyper breeds, this is an excellent option.
#2: Mental Stimulation for Your Dog
Once you know for sure that physical exercise box is checked, the next thing to be on the lookout for is making sure your dog isn’t just bored. Dogs are intelligent and social animals who need to keep their mind active to ward off boredom which can lead to anxiety and in some cases, even destructive behaviors.
Many dogs get much of their mental stimulation on their daily walks or during social activities such as spending time with other dogs at the dog park. If these kinds of activities are off the menu during the Coronavirus, it may be time to find some other ways to get your dog thinking.
Here are a few ideas to help you come up with ways to exercise your dog’s mind:
Train Some New Tricks
Teaching your dog new tricks using positive reinforcement based training methods is an excellent way to get them thinking. And, now is a great time for you to learn more about the basics of reward based training to pick up some skills that will serve you and your dog for life.
Find It Game
Do you have a dog that lives for sniffing while out on the daily walk? Chances are, your dog actively uses her mind while processing the world around her with smell. Take advantage of this natural instinct and make a fun game to help your dog occupy her mind without leaving the house.
Start by hiding a favorite toy or treat in the same room as your dog. Then say “Find it!” and praise your dog for finding their reward. Slowly make the game more challenging, even going so far as to hide the reward in different areas of the house.
Impulse Control Training
For dogs that struggle with hyperactivity and anxiety, one of the best types of behaviors you can work on are those that pro dog trainers call impulse control exercises. These types of “tricks” include asking for calm behavior for a delayed reward.
The first impulse control exercise that most people train is the command “Wait.” Set a piece of your dog’s kibble on the floor in front of you and every time your dog goes to eat it, slap your hand over the treat. As soon as your dog gives even the slightest pause while the treat is exposed, give the release word “OKAY!” and let them have the treat.
Over time, slowly increase the amount of time before you release your dog for the treat and add the cue word “Wait.” Keep the tone fun and positive and you will have your dog waiting patiently for even up to a few minutes or more in no time.
#3: Build a Routine
Let’s face it. COVID 19 has disrupted many of our daily routines. Dogs, like humans, appreciate the feeling of safety that order and predictability provides. A major cause of dog anxiety and hyperactivity can be caused by the disruption of the normal routine.
Be sure to add some new routine to your daily schedule even if you are working from home or unemployed. Pick a time for your dog’s meals and set an alarm. Try to do at least one physical exercise activity a day, around the same time. Try to keep a regular sleep pattern.
A regular routine is a critical part of keeping dogs relaxed, just like it is for most people. You may be surprised just how much a bit of routine may help your dog find their calm.
#4: Manage Your Own Anxiety
Dogs and humans have been evolving together for thousands of years. The bond we feel towards our beloved pets goes both ways. Of course we feel anxiety when our pet is anxious or hurting, and our pets feel the same way.
Making sure to meet your own needs for self care, managing your stress, and maintaining social bonds during social distancing play are not just good for you, they are also good for your dog. The CDC recommends these tips to make sure you are doing all you can to manage your own stress during the pandemic:
* Limit the amount of news that you watch
* Connect regularly with friends and loved ones through virtual means and phone
* Try mindfulness techniques such as meditation
* Get regular exercise to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol
* Eat healthy foods and avoid binging on junk food, alcohol, or drugs
* Maintain a healthy sleep schedule
* Reach out for professional help if you sense that your anxiety or depression is getting out of control
#5: Try Lolahemp CBD Oil
Some dogs are simply prone to anxiety. For example, issues such as separation anxiety, fear of storms, and general anxiety in dogs are not uncommon. During the changes caused by the pandemic, it is not surprising that many dog owners are seeing an increase in their dog’s anxiety levels.
All natural and organic CBD oil for pets may help calm your dog, both during this crisis and beyond.
In fact, you may be surprised to learn that it was actually the calming effect of full spectrum hemp oil for Lola, an adopted Chihuahua, that inspired the owners of Lolahemp to build their family owned business. Read more about Lola’s story here.