Adapting to lockdown: supporting our pets through difficult times

For many of us, the past couple of months have been spent at home. Not only have our routines changed dramatically since lockdown was introduced, but so have the routines of millions of dogs up and down the country.

Our co-founder Phil has spent the past few months with his Miniature Schnauzer, Walter, close by his side – learning a lot about how routines impact our pets and how we can support them.

While I expected my routines, behaviours and habits to change as a result of lockdown, over the past two months I’ve been surprised to see just how much my five-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, Walter, has changed too. We’ve heard about the upheaval many of us have faced, but we haven’t heard much about the pets that have had their day to day lives completely changed too – without any understanding of why.

Walter’s normal day to day activities involve a lot of moving around – he used to split his week between our house, my parents and the in-laws. He always had two walks a day and always along the same routes. And he’d often meet the same dogs along the way. 

Before all of this, I wouldn’t have said that Walter was a dog of routine because of how different his days look, but what I saw as a lack of routine was exactly what he knew, and loved. It’s been a challenge for him and he’s been much more unsettled than he usually is, plus his need for attention has skyrocketed – which isn’t easy when you have Zoom meetings and work to be doing!

The new normal

Now that I’m spending lots more time with Walter, I’ve picked up on the subtle changes in his behaviour that I probably wouldn’t notice normally. Our bond is stronger than ever, and through the confusion we’re coming out the other side with a sense of a new normal.

Of course, Walter’s situation isn’t the most serious thing to come out of the coronavirus crisis, but many of us will be in a similar situation. Our dogs and cats, who are maybe used to spending more time alone or with other family members and sitters, are suddenly finding that their owner is with them 24/7. This is a great thing in one respect – our pets love to spend time with us. 

It’s likely though that they’re now sleeping less, because they would’ve napped while you were at work, or expect constant fuss because before lockdown, our time with them was dedicated to giving them love and attention. It’s a difficult world for them to navigate, but we can help them adapt one day at a time.

How can I support my pet?

Before lockdown, Walter would have regular visits from a mobile grooming company. No more. I’d never clipped his nails before, but now I’m proficient with dog nail clippers and can give a decent dog shampoo!

There are lots of simple things you can learn and do at home that you would otherwise have a professional do. If you’re unsure, be sure to consult your groomer or even check out YouTube for tutorials!

  • Clipping nails – With the right nail clippers and a distraction for your pooch, you can carefully and gently clip your dog’s nails if they’re becoming overgrown. Lots of people might already do this at home, so don’t feel too anxious about giving it a go yourself.
  • Regular brushing and grooming – Again, with the right brushes for your dog’s coat and some great shampoo, you can easily keep on top of your dog’s coat. If your dog has long hair, you should gently brush their coat a few times a week. Giving them a bath every week or two weeks will also keep your dog fresh and their skin and coat in great condition.
  • Oral hygiene – If you’re not able to visit your vet at the moment, it’s important to keep on top of your dog’s teeth. From dental chews to special dog friendly toothpaste and brushes, you can find a wide range of products to use regularly to keep those teeth, gums and tongues fresh and healthy.

Having fun with your pet is also a top priority! If you have a bit of extra time at home, why not spend that time in the park or garden? You can brush up on your dog’s training or just have a good time together bonding and burning some excess energy.

This time has brought me even closer to Walter, and has given me a fresh perspective on how important it is to adapt how we look after our pets during this time to ensure our pets are happy and healthy.