Battling a global health crisis has been no walk in the park — but a northern Ontario dog trainer says for many pets, it’s been the time of their lives.
Angele Gemme of Pawsitive Gems Dog Training said with the gradual reopening and many returning to their usual workplaces outside the home, it leaves pets in a rough spot.
Pets will need help adjusting as people start returning to a more normal routine, she said, and it may not be an easy transition for them.
“You’ve got to keep in mind that they’ve been used to having you home all day every day, and now, all of a sudden, you’re leaving. So … I would definitely make sure that it’s something that they do gradually and not expect that the pets can go a full eight hours,” Gemme said.
Shelley Grady of Keen’s Miniature Longhaired Dachshunds is a dog breeder in Kirkland Lake who said demand for dogs skyrocketed during the pandemic, especially during extended lockdown periods. She said pet ownership has been a form of therapy for people.
“I think that that has a lot to do with it, being shut-in. Lots of people want the companionship. People don’t like to be alone,” Grady said.
Gemme said pets don’t like to be alone either and that it’s important to look for signs of distress as pet owners start leaving home for longer periods of time.
“Are you finding puddles of slobber on your floor? Are you finding baseboards chewed up? Are your neighbours saying that your dog barked and whined all day long,” she said.
Gemme suggests having a friend or family member check up on your furry friend every couple hours, then gradually adding half an hour to an hour of alone time, if the pet can handle it.
Behaviours like pacing and panting could indicate separation anxiety, which would require extra care from a veterinarian, she said.
But for pets that just seem uncomfortable being alone, she said tiring them out with a walk or games are great tools.
“Any kind of exercise that’s going to alleviate some of that pent-up energy is huge,” Gemme said.
Even for those who like working from home, the dog trainer said it’s still important to look after your pet’s mental health as we work to end this pandemic.