For a lot of people, a dog is part of the family. And that’s why it’s important to make sure they aren’t suffering from stress during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Katy Shields, owner of Dundee-based dog care business Bounce N Bound, said: “There’s no doubt about it, we’re all going through a very uncertain and unnerving time at the moment.
“There’s a lot of stress and tension in the air, and our normal routines are coming undone. We know checking on our friends and family is important especially at this time, but did you know there’s a member of the family we might be overlooking?
“I’m talking about our much-loved companions, dogs and puppies!”
Katy started her business – which includes dog-walking, daycare, boarding and training for our canine friends – in 2010, with the ethos of giving every dog the respect, kindness, patience, fun and commitment they deserve. And now more than ever, she believes they need lots of TLC.
“Our new lockdown lives can have an impact on our dogs. All of a sudden their routines have changed, they spend little or no time playing with friends, only getting local walks, a change in feeding schedules, and their humans are home more often feeling stressed and anxious.
“That’s a lot of change all at once!”
She added: “The good news is owners have a new opportunity to see life from their dog’s perspective! They’re now realising that being left alone for hours each day without anything to do can cause boredom, agitation, pent up energy and unstable emotions.
“The keys to a happy dog and successful ownership are regular exercise, positive training, playing, brain-stimulation, a healthy diet and of course, unconditional love. “
The Bounce N Bound Facebook page is filled with brain-engaging puzzles and games for dog owners to do with their pets. Katy also shares advice on training, enrichment, diet and the general care of our canine friends.
Having trained dogs since she was 15, Katy began her qualifications to become a trainer and behaviourist with Steve Mann’s Institute of Modern Dog Trainers. It is a force-free organisation dedicated to training dogs without causing fear or harm, or using out-of-date training methods that don’t understand dog behaviour.
She believes that training puts her in the position to understand a dog’s needs and how best to meet them.
She said: “As a dog trainer, I’m also thinking ahead to the time when we begin to come out of lockdown and return to our usual routines and how this will affect our dogs.
“You may see it as a return to normal, but our canine friends will once more face a sudden change in routine, when they are home alone for hours at a time again.
“This can cause one of the most misunderstood and complex behaviour problems called separation anxiety – simply when your absence causes your dog anxiety, stress, fear, and health problems such as head tremors and gastro problems.
“It’s not healthy for your dog never to be left and I am worried that there will be a big increase in separation anxiety cases ahead of us due to the owner’s 24 hour company.
“Dog owners could be implementing simple 5-10 minute training techniques now to prevent this before it happens.
“It is much easier to prevent separation anxiety than it is to reverse without the attention of a specialist trainer, and again this is something I will be offering training advice on the Bounce N Bound Facebook page.”