As I write this we’re currently in the midst of the coronavirus crisis and are on day 14 of “lockdown” in the UK. Many of us are now working from home. Kids have been off school for over two weeks. We’re in each others’ company 24/7……which is tough (…how much do you value your one walk a day now…?). At times frustrations run high and tolerance is low.
And it’s the same for our dogs. Since the restrictions on our movements have been put in place I’ve had calls from owners concerned about their dogs’ behaviour. Dogs who have never displayed any aggressive behaviours before have growled or snapped at children in the home. Why? For the same reasons many of us have probably (figuratively) snapped at our kids…..they’ve had enough and they need a break.
So how can you maintain calm and keep everyone safe and happy in a locked down house containing kids and dogs?
- Make sure your dog has a quiet place where he can go and get some space away from the kids if he needs it. And make sure the children understand that when he’s there he’s left alone. A bed in another room, a crate, access to a bedroom are all possible options. Bear in mind that a young dog may not make good choices about when he needs some down time so you might have to choose for him. In fact, I’d suggest frequent time apart throughout the day, whether you think your dog needs it or not.
- If you can get outdoors, get outdoors. Being cooped up in the house for long periods of time can make us all grumpy….dogs included. A run in the fresh air, or even just pottering in the garden can help everyone let off steam, get some space from each other and keep everyone more balanced.
- Make the most of your permitted outside exercise. Give your dog a good walk, full of opportunities to sniff, dig and generally decompress.
- Supervision is key if you have young kids. And it’s hard when you’re juggling working from home in less than ideal circumstances, kids with cabin fever and an under exercised dog. It’s really hard. But it’s also vital. Think about how you can set things up so that the kids and dog are never left unsupervised. Can your dog stay with you while you work? Can you use baby gates to help separate them while you are working? Can you and your partner tag team and one works while the other supervises?
- Make sure the way your children play with your dog is appropriate. Dogs aren’t dolls to be picked up, hugged & kissed. Many dogs are uncomfortable with that and even dogs that tolerate it may decide one day that they’ve had enough. Things are always fine until they’re not so don’t risk it.
- Make sure your children’s play with each other isn’t upsetting your dog. Loud shouting, lots of jumping around and sudden unpredictable movement can be challenging for some dogs. If your dog finds that worrying let him go to his safe place while the kids are playing.
- Build some quiet time into your daily routine. Put on a film, settle the kids on the sofa and let everyone relax. The increased activity in the house probably means that your dog is getting less sleep than usual so some down time to encourage everyone to relax and recharge the batteries can only be good.
These are challenging times for all of us – humans & canine. If you need help get in touch, I’d be delighted to help you.
Stay safe & keep on keeping on.
If you liked this you may find this blog “My Dog Growled At My Child….Now What?” of interest also.