The Dog Grumbler
MANY of us have had to deal with changes to our routines lately and a reader wondered how this might affect our dogs.
Here are some things that come to mind.
Firstly, changes to routine shouldn’t be a big deal.
We are dealing, after all, with a supremely adaptable creature and as our world changes around us, I am confident that dogs will always adapt at least as well as humans.
My advice to dog owners in most instances starts with this: If you smell confident and calm and behave accordingly your dog will be less likely to react adversely to anything new.
If you need to work from home, your dog will be happy to see more of you.
Think about how your dog should fit in with the new routine and show it.
Just calmly make it happen every day.
Don’t expect your dog to get it straight away.
Try to include a place somewhere in the new routine for the two of you to go and smell something together – even if it’s just a trip to the letterbox.
It’s all about the sequence of events and no sequence is recognisable the first time, but once it is established in your dog’s mind it stays there.
Do this right and your dog will sail through the next period of working from home.
The most common worry seems to be the sudden separation when our situation reverts to ‘normal’.
Many dogs will suddenly be left out of their owner’s life for long stretches on most days — again.
Now your dog is faced with the old problem — nothing.
No new smells, no new events, no routines, no rituals, just keep the place safe and trust that the boss will come home when it smells like 6.15pm or whatever.
Your best option in this situation is to get someone to come and take your dog to smell things while you are away.
It doesn’t have to be every day or all day; every little bit will improve your dog’s quality of life.
Find the right person to do this and you will be doing them a favour too.
My friend Peta walks someone else’s dog regularly and I have seen the benefits both she and the dog accrue.
My mate Greg collects his son’s dog and brings it when he visits me – good for my dog and his.
And Tommy leaves his dog with a neighbour when he goes to work.
As a grandparent I know the value of giving them back – of enjoying quality time only.
Being a dog’s uncle gives me the same feeling.
I know dogs who behave better for me than for their owners, dogs who know my routines and signals just as well as those from home and rejoice in both relationships, both languages, both sets of rituals.
Make some enquiries; post a note somewhere asking for a dog walker or drop your dog at doggy day care once in a while.
Maybe it will cost you a few bucks, but so will a depressed canine.
And the change will add a new dimension to your dog’s life.
If on the other hand you are not a dog owner, but you think it would be fun to get a dog, especially while you are working from home, hold that thought — think about registration, vet bills and dog food.
Think about doggy doos and doggy doo bags, hair on the furniture, neighbours complaining, fines, more vet bills, restricted holidays and boarding fees.
Thinks about bones buried and holes dug in your garden, shoes chewed up and muddy paw prints and puddles on the floor.
Why not borrow one?
Be a dog’s uncle or aunt first.
Soak up the joy of dog companionship and give it back.
This way everybody wins.
More to the point, one less dog loses.
Maybe you’ll be good at it.
Certainly, you’ll have a better understanding of what dog ownership might be like.
You know job sharing?
Consider dog sharing.
There are dogs out there who will need you.