Although my dog Finn is on the “high energy” side, he became very reactive after Hurricane Florence. We evacuated prior to the storm and stayed at numerous locations prior to getting back into our home. Until then, I didn’t realize how the stress in our lives directly impacted his.
I’m using the hurricane as a comparison because it had a similar emotional and financial impact on many of us as the Coronavirus. Although life has changed, there are ways to help our dogs through this challenging time.
I read an interesting article published by NPR about this subject – “If the owner is stressed, then the dog is also likely to mirror that stress,” explains Lina Roth, a professor at Linkoping University in Sweden and an author of the study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports.”
Self-distancing or social isolation can take a toll on us and our animals.
Here’s a few tips to help you through this difficult time.
– Communication is important. It’s very important to pay attention and let your dog know that you hear what they hear, you see what they see. They need to know that you have a plan as their leader to help them relax and understand that you have things under control. If they’re afraid of loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms, guide them to a safe place (area in the house) to relax. This depends on your dog. Finn is very independent and prefers to be alone during these times, but if your dog prefers to stay close to you when they’re afraid, remain calm. Dogs are masters at picking up on your body language and know if you’re uneasy or stressed out, this can lead to behavior problems because they look to you as their leader.
– They need physical and mental exercise. Besides walking, play catch, and/or hide and seek. Finn loves nose work! I direct him into the crate or have him lie down in a different room, then hide small smelly treats, and tell him to “find it”. Once he does, we celebrate with lots of praise!
If you’re thinking about getting a dog. The opportunities to improve your life are endless with a furry companion. Walking Finn and taking time out of my busy schedule to play and train him has enriched my life. He rescued me!
I hope this article has been helpful. Please let me know if you have any comments, suggestions, or questions by sending an email or calling 252-259-6853.