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Don't Panic!

OK, just panic a little bit. This is a very trying time for all of us so I thought I'd have a little chat.

Firstly, you cannot catch Covid-19 from your dog. You might get it from another person if they sneeze or cough on your dog, you then pat the dog and touch the infected droplets, then touch your own face, but the transmission is not down to the dog. If you're out walking your dog and a complete stranger wants to pat and cuddle your dog, tell that person your dog will bite them (or something to keep the person at bay). For some of us that is a reality. For some of us we might need to exaggerate a little. Do what you need to do to stay safe and healthy.

So here we are, either working from home or having a holiday because work has been suspended. The dogs are in heaven because their humans are with them ALL DAY. Some dogs will blissfully lie at our feet, and some will demand walks and attention. The foot warmers will need exercise at some point, and so will you. Unless you are unwell it's OK to walk your dog. Just stay away from busy places. Stroll the neighbourhood and try not to touch anything. (It's a bit sad that a bag of dog poo is safer to touch than random handles/gates/fences/pedestrian walk buttons).

For the attention seekers you might need to add in more than a walk. We need to tire their brains as well as work their bodies. As part of your walk, add in sits and sit-stepaways at random points as well as at road crossings. Do some creative heeling over logs, around a tree, weaving between posts. If you can find large rocks or logs that your dog can walk along and sit on, get them to heel and do a sit-stepaway up high, in long grass, on a footbridge.

If you are also juggling kids, work-from-home AND dogs, you're going to also need imagination to wrangle all of these. Get the kids to set up an obstacle course in the yard for themselves, and one for the dog. Include things for the dog to hop over, to sit on (like the rocks or logs mentioned above), things to walk under or through (like a tunnel which can just be a towel draped like a tent). Add distractions to the dog's obedience exercises like a sit-stepaway whilst kids bounce balls or ride past on bikes.

At lunch break you can intensify the distraction training by having the dog in a drop-stepaway whilst everyone sits down to eat. Aim for a 15 minute drop and allocate one participant as "Official Circler" and then change to another person the next time you do this.

Above all, stay safe and well. Enjoy the time with family and dogs. When you feel the stress creeping up, take a minute to pet your dog. Snuggle with them. They always help us feel better.

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