Our routines have changed completely since lockdown began, and so have the routines of our canine companions. Trainer and author of ‘Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy’, Steve Mann, shares how we can all make the most of this extended time inside with our dogs
While Happiful usually focuses on the human experience, we’re massive dog lovers too and have noticed a lot of talk about how lockdown is impacting our canine companions. So, we were over the moon when professional dog trainer, behaviourist and author, Steve Mann, agreed to chat to us about the subject for our podcast I am. I have.
Steve’s Top Tips
1. What gets treated, gets repeated
Behaviour that gets rewarded, gets repeated! Are you feeding your dogs while you’re on work calls in order to keep them quiet, and find them coming back time and again? Instead of reinforcing this behaviour, plan ahead and prepare a treat or chew for your dog in a separate space, the garden if you have one, before you start your call.
2. Move back towards life before lockdown
Many people are worried about the additional attention their dogs are seeking or the time they are spending close to ther family, when this is not the norm for them. Steve suggests that “stretching the umbilical cord” now could be a good thing before we start to return to a more usual pattern of life.
Start by writing down your dogs routine pre-lockdown and work towards that a little more, perhaps settling them in another room, garden or crate if you use one, for a period of time each day when they would usually be alone – so they remember that they can rest and just be, without being with you.
Be with your dog. Find out what your dog loves doing and what you love doing with your dog.
3. Get your rucksack on!
While we’re only able to get out for a small amount of time each day we can make this really meaningful, and build some mindfulness into it too. Dogs love to use their noses, so take a rucksack with some different elements in for the dog to explore – including a chew, a toy and some other items they may not encounter usually.
Leave your phone at home, and walk to a green space and sit down with your dog. Allow your dog to investigate your rucksack and interact with them as they’re doing so. Be with your dog. Find out what your dog loves doing and what you love doing with your dog.
More than anything, be in the moment and share that moment with your very special friend.
Listen to Steve’s podcast for lots more information, hints and support – and check out his book ‘Easy Peasy, Puppy Squeezy’.