Prepare your dog for deconfinement

How to get your dog used to staying alone and how to get him used to meeting people who will wear a mask in the street?

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If everyone is delighted with this scheduled release, this is not necessarily the case for our doggies who risk finding themselves alone again at home and confronted with a whole new generation of potentially masked humans. very frightening. How then to prepare them well for these changes?

Getting your dog used to loneliness again

Ah confinement! A real nightmare for some but certainly a dream period for our four-legged friends who had, for many weeks, "their humans" with them at all times. During confinement, your dog no longer had to endure the long hours of waiting, alone at home, for the return of the children from school and yours from work!

And even if the walks were shortened, the confinement was an opportunity for some masters to find ways to keep their dog busy and active at home by offering them stimulating activities!

Suffice to say that the return to normal life may be quite complicated to manage for dogs sensitive to change and for dogs who already had a tendency to badly support periods of loneliness before confinement. The risk is that deconfinement is the cause of the occurrence of great emotional distress and significant psychological suffering in these animals, likely to result in annoying behavior (barking, dirtiness, destruction) or even self-harm. mutilations.

To prevent the appearance of these behaviors and for the well-being of your pet, it is therefore essential to anticipate the deconfinement as much as possible by gradually reaccustoming your dog to loneliness.

What you can do about it:

  • Start by going about your business, navigating from room to room, completely ignoring your dog. This implies that you should not talk to him, touch him, or look at him. The goal is that your dog ends up no longer following you everywhere from room to room, for lack of interaction with you. At the same time, offer him an occupation toy filled with his favorite treats in a room where you will not be so that your dog can take pleasure other than in your presence and by interacting with you.
  • If your dog doesn't seem to lose interest in you despite this and continues to follow you everywhere, go to another room and close the door for a few seconds before coming back, still completely ignoring your pet. Start with very short separations and then very gradually increase the separation time if you see that your dog reacts well to it.Be careful never to trigger a stress reaction in your dog by creating too long separation times from the outset.
  • When the separations are well experienced by your pet, do the same exercise but leaving through your front door for a few seconds then gradually increasing your separation time.
  • When everything is going well, start not always taking him with you on your authorized trips and start leaving him alone for a few minutes, gradually increasing the duration of your absences.
  • In any case, always make sure to deritualize your arrivals and departures, that is to say, to come and go without interacting with your dog. You must absolutely trivialize these small separations and increase their duration very gradually, always ensuring that your dog remains below his stress threshold so that the experience is always lived positively for him.

Also make sure your dog has a sleeping area that is a real refuge area for him. It must be very comfortable so that your dog most wants to go there on his own initiative and placed in a quiet place, not too far from family life but also not in a place where he can monitor the comings and goings. each other constantly. Besides, do not hesitate to ask your dog to go when he is a little too sticky with you!

These few exercises should help your dog gradually get used to being alone again. But, if these exercises are not enough to soothe your dog's anxiety, do not hesitate to consult a canine behaviorist. Most professionals offer remote appointments to help you resolve any issues you may be having with your dog. And, a large number of them will be able to resume individual consultations from May 11.

Our advice!

If you have taken advantage of the confinement to spend more time with your animal and introduce him to new activities / new occupation games, keep the good habits when the confinement is lifted. This will help your dog not feel left out!

Getting your dog used to “masked humans” positively

After deconfinement, it's a safe bet that you will come across many more people on walks with your dog and that a certain number of these people will wear a mask.

Where some dogs won't even notice it, this new accessory can be somewhat disconcerting for others, more sensitive, who may then start barking or seek to flee from "masked humans" who will come across their road. In the past, you may have observed similar behavior in your dog when you come across someone walking with a cane, wearing a bulky hat or any other accessory that your dog does not have. often faced.

There is nothing surprising in this behavior because some dogs can be afraid of what they don't know and wearing a mask - which was not part of our habits until then - is also something completely new for the dog.

These sensitive and reactive dogs will therefore need more support to get used to meeting masked humans, without causing them stress.

This habit must be progressive and always experienced positively by the dog. It can be done in 3 steps:

" Step 1: positively accustom the dog to the mask object"

Present a mask to your dog by associating the object with something positive for your animal. It can be a toy or one of his favorite treats.

To do this, first place yourself at a distance from your dog, without moving at first, and do not force him to approach if you notice that the object makes him uncomfortable or frightens him.Pay particular attention to the calming signals that your dog may give at this time, such as turning his head away or repeatedly licking his nose, which may indicate discomfort. If necessary, do not insist and repeat the operation again until you can approach the mask of your dog without causing the slightest sign of stress in him. It's even better if your dog shows interest and approaches himself when you take the mask out.

" Step 2: positively accustom the dog to masked humans"

Once the dog is used to the object, get him used to seeing it carried by human beings (no, it's not quite the same thing!). To do this, proceed in stages, starting by bringing the mask close to your face while rewarding your dog with a treat. Repeat this operation several times. Then, repeat the same exercise by putting on the mask, first statically, then moving around your home.

When your dog seems to react well to wearing the mask, continue to wear it to do a pleasant activity with your dog such as a play session, petting or even authorized walk time. Then ask any other members of your household to do the same. Outdoors, remember to reward your dog when you come across other masked humans.

Step 3: trivialize wearing a mask

Finally, continue your dog's desensitization by making wearing a mask a trivial thing. To achieve this, continue wearing it at home without further interaction with your dog to go about your daily activities until your dog is completely used to it and pays no attention to it.

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