It’s Mental Health Week, and in these uncertain times, its important that you look after yourself so that you can look after your dog.
Most dog owners will say their dog can understand if they are upset, and pick up on the stress and anxiety being felt by their owners. There have been many studies that suggest that this is true as dogs are a lot more in-tune with how their owners are feeling than many people realise.
Sadly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us are experiencing some form of stress of due to the disruption and upheaval affecting their lives, money worries due to furlough or the loss of income from self employment and even illness and the loss of a loved one.
While we can’t eradicate this from our lives right now, we can acknowledge it and the effect it has on our dogs.
So cut yourself some slack! Do NOT feel guilty for feeling a little low right now! We are all human, so do what you can do, when you can do it and don’t feel bad that your mental health isn’t exactly 100% right now.
I was subject to puppy guilt last week when someone told me their pup can do X Y and Z and I will admit I felt a little crappy that I hadn’t taught her any tricks just yet as I’ve been so busy just getting through life in general.
But after sitting back and thinking about things for a while I discovered a whole new perspective on the situation.
Sure, I might have been too preoccupied with other things to teach her many tricks, but she’s a friendly puppy that has only met a very few people & other dogs due to the lockdown restrictions and we’ve got plenty of time to work on her tricks.
The few people she has met (including the vet) have all commended her on being an amazing little girl, so I shouldn’t beat myself up about the fact she doesn’t know how to roll over right now – so never compare yourself or your dogs to others as it will just lower your mood if you feel that you’ve let them down on the training side.
Remember, dogs just want a warm bed, good food, love and (of course) yummy treats, so you do you and forget what everyone else is up to.
Do what you enjoy and if you have the time and energy, try some new tricks, obedience or heelwork to music. I love seeing my friends doing these activities, but I enjoy agility and scent work more, so only do what makes you and your dogs happy!
Some people and/or dogs may not want to do any activities and just want to chill together on the sofa or mooch around in the garden, but as long as you are both happy, that is the only thing that really matters.
How we can help ourselves
If your not feeling 100%, have a day off walking if you are not feeling it. Dogs can miss a walkies from time to time, so why not play some games in the garden or living room with them instead? It can improve your mood, and keep them mentally stimulated without you having to leave the house.
Games can also help to relax your dog, so to allow extra sniffing fun without going out on a walk, why not sprinkle treats or their food in the garden or try a snuffle box?
Dogs needing to expend extra energy might enjoy digging, why not set them up a sandpit or paddling pool? You’d be surprised on how little money setting these digging pits cost, but be sure to see if you can find anything lurking in the back of your shed or garage that might fit the bill.
Dogs also relax, release stress and anxiety by chewing, so take a look at our long lasting chews that can really help alleviate canine stress.
What about playing some relaxing music? Play your favourites and take some time to sit quietly and enjoy it or try relaxing music for dogs
Or how about taking some time for you both and sharing a guided meditation? They are many easy, free examples to follow, but this one is my fave!
If you need further help and support, please do talk to friends as this can really help lift your mood. For confidential inpartial support from a third party, follow this link: https://www.samaritans.org/
For Pet loss and Bereavement Support, there is help and advice available https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-and-pet-loss
We are here for a chat too, so please feel free to drop us a message and we’ll be happy to give you some more stress-busting tips for you and your pooch.