According to a new study, 8 in 10 dog owners said their pet was extremely important to their mental wellbeing during the UK’s lockdown and believe their dogs were largely happy, some did admit that their dog wasn’t his usual self as a result of being indoors for longer periods of time with the whole family.
The findings have been shared by natural pet treat brand Pet Munchies, which also learnt half of dog owners made sure their dog had extra play sessions, 4 in 10 dog owners took more walks and almost a third chose to keep their dogs stimulated and occupied at home by teaching them new tricks!
Natasha and Toto / Photo Credit: Natasha Wise
Natasha Wise is a three-time world agility champion. She explains the benefit to a dog’s mental wellbeing from having stimulation, such as learning a new skill to get the mind whirring, during unusual times like these.
“Stimulation focuses a dog’s brain on the desired game and reduces stress, anxiety, and associated unwanted behaviours. As a result, through mental stimulation, dogs become happier resulting in calmness and settling around the home after a period of stimulation.
“The best training tip I can give is to find out what makes your dog tick and include that in your teaching as a reward you know your dog will love. My dogs have a particular favourite brand, Pet Munchies, they’re very versatile and my dogs love them so I always have them to hand.”
Natasha’s dog Toto in training / Photo Credit: Natasha Wise
The most popular tricks taught by dog owners include playing hide and seek, sit/stay, roll over and giving a paw on command. Some ambitious owners admitted that they taught their dog to tidy their toys up behind themselves, to fetch the TV remote and even to read!
And to reward their pets for learning fun, and sometimes practical, new skills, dog owners treated their dogs to their favourite food and treats, lavished hugs, kisses and affection on their clever dogs and a few lucky dogs were even gifted new toys.
Dog trainer Cat Donald had to temporarily close her business during the lockdown. She told K9 Magazine that she decided to teach her two-year-old Labrador Retriever, Skye, a new trick that she could use every day – to fetch her lead.
“Without Skye, lockdown would have been much harder to get through, she’s made it a bearable experience and the bond with my dog has definitely grown for the better,” says Cat.
Cat Donald and Skye / Photo Credit: Cat Donald
Ryan O’Meara shared this piece of advice to help dog owners help their dogs to beat post-lockdown blues:
“For dogs that have gotten used to the specific routine of having their owners around, it may be jarring for them when it suddenly and abruptly ends.
“Dogs love being with their family, so less time spent with their owners can make them sad. Re-establishing routine is the key component for making sure our dogs don’t suffer the post-lockdown blues.”