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  • Writer's pictureMary-Jo Duffy

COVID-19: Take a Deep Breath

Like so many people right now, I often open my eyes in the morning wondering if COVID-19 is just a bad dream. Maybe this will be the day that life can go back to normal? Whatever normal is. We, not only as a nation, but as a global community are in the hot seat right now. How do we make meaningful changes to our lives, how do we come together as one to be kinder, gentler, more tolerant and less divisive? What is the message here? This is a conversation that will continue for many years to come, I am sure of that.

Here is something to consider if you are struggling to maintain your consistency and routine with your dogs. Your dogs 100% feel the stress and anxiety that you are putting out there. I have a new puppy client who lives in the next town over from me. We met in person only once for a consult just as the virus was ramping up and before social distancing was a thing. We had a great lesson, and the puppy was lovely, keen on learning and ready to work. I received a call from Bill, the dog’s dad about four days later. He was upset that the puppy seemed to have developed a serious case of separation anxiety. We went over some basics, but after chatting more I realized the crux of the problem: Bill is a restauranteur who owns three local restaurants and employs 80 people. I cannot even begin to imagine the stress that he must have been feeling then, not to mention how much worse it has gotten for his industry.

In a nutshell, the overwhelming stress is REAL! The interesting this is when I brought this up with respect to the puppy, he said, “yes, but he doesn’t know how stressed I am.” I would take that bet any day of the week. Of course our dogs feel our stress! They have an uncanny sense of picking up on every emotion we are feeling - good, bad and ugly. Don’t discount the stress that your dog may be receiving second hand.

Here are five things you can do today to quell some of the madness:

  • Find a sliver of nature and immerse yourselves. A stream, a lesser traveled path, a mossy tree stump. Let your dog sniff away while you breathe deeply and soak in the sounds.

  • Teach your dog a trick. Shake hands, targeting, roll over. Dedicate 3 minutes twice a day and after a week your pal will have a couple of fun party tricks!

  • Take a brush to your pooch! Whether it’s a long flowing coat, or a super short one, all dogs should tolerate (and maybe even like) at home grooming. Get out your treats, take it slowly, but make it part of your regular routine. It’s important!

  • Work on calming dog massage techniques. Check out Rannalynn on Dogly’s site for detailed info from a pro.

  • Invest in a couple of durable food stuffed toys and get creative! Fill a Kong with bits of a crunchy dog treat then fill with bone broth or a low sodium store bought broth and freeze. Serve outside for less mess.

Things are upside down in the universe right now, but we will get through this. Thank goodness for the pure love and joy of dogs. Breathe, find gratitude in your heart, hug your dogs, and stay safe.

#covid19gods #covid19 #puppytraining #seperationanxiety #happyathome

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