If you are looking for fans of the confinement, the animals may be the only ones raising their legs right now.
When everything is closed, there is not much to do except take the dog for a walk or play with a furry feline. But how many walks are too many and can you tire your own pet?
Animal behaviorist Mark Vette says that during the confinement it is important to socialize the dogs and continue training them to ensure they do not experience distress or separation anxiety after the confinement is over.
“The main risks are that they become a little more protective and reactive around people and other dogs because they haven’t seen them for a long time, so there are ways you can work to keep their socialization at least seemingly high and so on. they don’t engage in problem behaviors. “
Vette uses clicker training to do this at alert level 4.
“You have your social distancing rules, so you stay away from other people, at least three or four meters away, and you just put the dog down and use a ‘look’ command and a ‘look up’ command and click “Reward them for looking and being sociable, you know you won’t bark at them and you won’t threaten them. Just looking at them and being aware of people, but not overreacting.”
He says that without continued socialization, dogs can become anxious and more reactive to everyday sounds.
“If you let them get anxious and cautious and start barking at things and reacting, then that will start to set in and become their kind of coping mechanism and their way of behaving around people and dogs, which we don’t. We do. We want to, of course. We want to maintain their sociability. “
Vette says that even if everyone in the family takes the dog for a walk, it is unusual for them to become overstimulated.
“Obviously the smaller breeds and the more giant breeds, you just have to be a little more careful with the amount of exercise you give them and adapt to what breed they are, but since they are normally a healthy dog they can actually walk. well.
“But you need to get them in shape, like anything else, if you’re going to walk a lot more with them, then they need to get in shape with you. So, you just increase the time so that they have a chance to get in shape, just as necessary. But I can tell you from my own experience that, in general, most families do not overstimulate their dogs, they under-stimulate them. I would recommend that people, the whole family, get involved. “
He says cats require less maintenance.
“The old saying, dogs have owners and cats have staff is probably very pertinent.”
“Cats are solitary species by nature. If you go back to their ancestral cats, the Felis Silvestris Lybica, which was the ancestral cat. But the good thing is that they are not so concerned about you or the way you are behaving. Always. If you feed and handle them, and keep making friends, they will be happy like Larry, and the longer you are at home, the more they will like it. “
Vette says animals are great for the mental health of locked people.
“There are 10 or 15 benefits that dogs have for us to be closer to them and they are all positive things for our health, you know that they increase the health of your heart, increase your dopamine levels, increase your oxytocin levels. All those things they are beneficial to humans, so it is good to be at home with your pets. “
But when it comes to walking your locked up dog, microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles says it’s important to follow all of the level four guidelines and restrictions.
“If you are going to walk your dog, put on the mask and keep it on a leash, that’s really important. That will prevent other people from trying to pet your animal.”
Another question on everyone’s mind: Are you allowed to pet someone else’s dog or cat while you go on your daily lockdown walk?
Last year, minks in Europe contracted Covid-19 and were able to transmit it to humans, with Denmark killing 17 million minks in November in response to the outbreaks.
And while Siouxsie Wiles says there have been no confirmed cases of domestic pets transmitting Covid-19 to humans, prevention is better than cure.
“As tempted as we are, I’d say just leave it alone. If you had Covid-19, you’re more likely to pass it on to their animal than the animal will give it to you. So maybe I’m thinking about them too instead of thinking. in your own health. “
When it comes to pets that carry Covid-19 particles in their fur, Wiles says that while it is highly unlikely, it cannot be ruled out.
“There was a concern that if people had Covid-19 they would be putting virus particles on their pet. I mean, this is potentially true even with an airborne virus, but then the concern was that if people touched, already you know he stroked the animal, they would pick it up. “
“We have very little evidence of what we call fomite transmission – inanimate object transmission – the only well-documented case that we thought we had here in New Zealand with the dustbin lid actually, which looks like it was more aerosol transmission, but That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. “
Wiles says being cautious is the best way forward.
“While I know it would be lovely, and probably very good for people’s mental health, to pet other people’s animals, I think keep your hands to yourself and make sure everyone is masked outdoors.”