Our amazing Group Expert and Qualified Dog Trainer Claire Denyer takes us through some of the most frequently asked questions that we may face in the weeks ahead as our dogs face isolation.
At the beginning of 2020, it was flooding, and now it’s a pandemic! But it could be a sprained ankle or some other event that makes it difficult at times for us to take our dogs outdoors.
Claire has also created a bonus course to help guide us through how we can look after our dogs when we don’t have our normal level of access to the outdoors.
Are Puppies Affected By Isolation?
A question that’s coming up a lot is…How will the social distancing guidelines affect socialisation training with my new puppy?
Firstly puppies don’t need to meet every person or dog to be socialised. In fact, puppies who meet every person and dog, they see can end up obsessed by other dogs and people. This can lead to issues I’ll come back to later.
Correct socialisation includes environmental training which can really help build your dog’s confidence and doesn’t have to include meeting people or dogs.
You see, socialisation is such a misunderstood word in dog training.
We are constantly contacted by people wanting to bring their pups to classes to play with other dogs, their rescue dogs to classes to meet other dogs and learn to play with other dogs, and even dogs with behavioural problems to classes to socialise them around calm dogs.
Our classes are not for any of the above. Our classes are designed to educate the owners on how to train their dogs and get the best out of their dogs. Our classes are designed to help owners learn skills to help them train their dogs for life. Our classes are to educate the owners on how to keep their dogs safe. In our classes, dogs are learning skills, and, how to relax and focus on their owners in the presence of other dogs and people.
John and I educate our clients about what socialisation is, and, the importance of not letting their dogs run up to other dogs. The same applies to people.
I want my dogs focused on me, rather than on other dogs or other people.
Another thing I want from my dogs is a reliable recall. Why?
There are several reasons for not letting your dog run up to other dogs or people here are just a few examples…
If your dog runs up to a dog who is on a lead it may be on a lead for one of these reasons: maybe the dog is nervous, may be aggressive, the dog could be recovering from illness or surgery, it may be in pain, the dog may be in training, perhaps the dog is unpredictable, or, has a poor recall, the list goes on…
The Dangerous Dog Act is another reason to not let your dog run up to people. If you cannot recall your dog and he runs up to someone and they feel fearful, you could be reported and your dog could be deemed dangerously out of control in the eyes of the law.
Dog theft is on the rise. If your dog is over-friendly or has a poor recall and runs up to people your dog could be at a greater risk of getting snatched
Incorrect socialisation can create “over-friendly” dogs who are more interested in other dogs than in the owner. These dogs can become obsessed with other dogs and may pull or lunge on the lead to try to get to the other dog. This can lead to frustration or even aggression.
Here’s the thing, dog on dog attacks are on the rise. You wouldn’t believe the number of dogs John sees for behavioural consultations that have been attacked and as a result, are either fearful or now aggressive, or, the number of calls we get from owners whose dogs just won’t recall when other dogs are around and are starting to get themselves into trouble.
If you’ve never witnessed a dog-on-dog attack or had to deal with the aftermath of a dog attack it probably sounds a bit far-fetched or even a bit dramatic.
It’s not meant to ensure you can control your dog. It’s not cruel to stop your dog from running up to other dogs and people. It could save your dog’s life.
Socialisation done correctly includes getting your dog used to and comfortable around sounds, sights, activities, and objects he or she may come across in their lives. It should also include teaching your dog how to behave and relax around various places, dogs and people. It does not mean letting your dog play fight with other dogs or jump up on people.
So, with this in mind, there’s no reason why we can’t socialise puppies or dogs whilst abiding by the government’s social distancing guidelines.
Is Now A Good Time To Buy A Puppy?
It may seem like the ideal time to get a puppy as you are likely to be home a lot more…
In some respects this is true, however, bear in mind this current routine isn’t permanent.
Although you’ll have time more time to train your puppy, do consider how you will also get him/her used to your normal lifestyle to help prevent problems later on.
This advice also goes for adult dogs who are going to quickly adapt to you being at home more.
So, try to include enforced periods of separation from your puppy or dog to help them grow up to be confident in their own skin as well as a part of our pack.
We recommend at least 1 hour alone in the house (or crated) even if this is why you are in another room or in the garden, or even whilst exercising another household dog.
If you allow your puppy or dog to spend every minute of the day with you during this time they are much more likely to develop separation anxiety when routines go back to normal.
What Can I Do To Help My Dog with isolation?
Everyone needs to be sensible and should follow the Government’s advice. With regards to social distancing, we believe this is a good thing for training your dog.
If everyone who is out with their dogs seriously adheres to the social distancing guidelines you should be given plenty of space to train your dog without being harassed by unruly dogs.
Dogs with a poor recall should be kept on a lead until they have a reliable recall.
Whilst those not in self-isolation may still be able to use public places like parks to walk and train your dogs you will probably find it therapeutic as well as good for your dog.
Environmental training is something which can be great for building your dog’s confidence and keeping you both focused.
For those in self-isolation there are plenty of indoor training opportunities such as teaching your dog to settle, position transitions, and perfecting heel work…we will be sharing lots of ideas over the coming days, weeks and months
As dog trainers, we believe people will need our support just as much now as ever.
Could Isolation Be A Positive Time For My Dog?
Now could be a great time! Build or strengthen the relationship with your dog during this time through appropriate and meaningful training.
Whether you are self-isolating or still able to walk your dog in public places whilst adhering to the government’s social distancing guidelines, you can use this time to work on some really important parts of training your dog.
Through appropriate training, you will strengthen the relationship between you and your dog and this will help your dog get through life as a much happier and calmer dog.
Environmental training is so important for your dog.
During your dog’s life, he or she will be put in environmental situations which will test their behaviour and temperament. The human world is not a natural environment for a dog.
Environmental training includes getting your dog used to new and unfamiliar areas, varied surfaces, training environments, sounds, and space…the list goes on and on.
So, during this time of self-isolation and/or social distancing why not get creative and do some environmental training with your dog…
Stay Safe! Much Love
You may also be interested in our course: Your Dogs Welfare During Times Of Isolation
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