Animals have been companions to humans for a long, long time. Aside from blessing us with their floofiness every day, they also provide extra goodness. Below are more reasons to love our fur babies and some show and tell of my own puppers and experience in the current iso times.
There’s no doubt that pets increase our opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialise, with research suggesting that regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.
Studies have shown that pets can also help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship and unconditional love, they may also give their owners a greater sense of purpose. This is particularly important for our mental health during this pandemic, where people’s regular routines have been interrupted around the world and we have decreased levels of human interaction. That’s why animals, especially dogs, make such great therapists. As it turns out, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement – dogs feel the same happy feelings we do when we interact with them!
In the same way that our happy feelings are linked with our pets, we are now getting to experience firsthand what it’s like to be stuck at home all day! The most exciting part of our pet’s day is when we come home (and food of course!). When we’re sad they help to cheer us up, when we’re happy they mirror that joy, and when we’re somewhere in between, they just want to love us.
Sometimes I feel like my dogs are my children – albeit less work than the real deal I’m sure, but still sometimes a handful with their own personalities and nuances. For example, my 8 year old Golden Retriever Mia is an absolute sweetheart 99% of the time (just not when it comes to food!). She loves any fluffy toys and teddies you give her, and will lay for hours just licking them and looking after them.
Our other dog Luna is a 1.5 year old Blue Merle Border Collie, she is a cute little pocket rocket – on the opposite side of the spectrum from Mia. Unlike Mia, Luna requires constant attention, and cannot sit still for more than 40mins. Due to her breed, she needs a lot of exercise not just for her body, but her brain too.
So now that we are spending plenty of time at home with our furry friends in mutual boredom, it’s a great time to not only give them the exercise they want and need, but to teach them a new trick or reinforce positive behaviours and correct any negative ones. The family has been working together every day to take the dogs for a walk, now that we are all mostly working from home. It’s actually a little funny, but I realised that I’ve been outside more in this isolation period than before the pandemic, while maintaining social distance recommendations of course!
Now that I’ve got more time, I like to go over the different tricks I’ve taught them. Training comes with its own frustrations and rewards. Mia was the most frustrating to train, she required a LOT of repetition, she’s cute but she isn’t the brightest in the pack. Over the past 8 years we’ve managed to get her to ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘paw’ & ‘roll’ while Luna who isn’t quite 2 yet, learns new tricks in 30 minutes or less! It’s been amazing to see what she can do, so far we’ve mastered; ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘roll’, ‘paw’, ‘high-five’, ‘dance’ and I’ve even got her doing some agility training when we go to the dog park – she’s jumping through hoops and even walking along planks! She also likes to bring me teddies, socks or basically anything she can get her paws on while I’m working, hoping that each new item will entice me to play fetch with her.
When it came to training a dog as energetic and smart as Luna, I found that watching videos of the world famous ‘dog whisperer’, Cesar Millan incredibly interesting and helpful. He explains the best way to approach interacting and training your dog. Here is a link to a great article on Cesar’s website explaining our dog's behaviour and how best to approach training them.
So while pets are amazing for us mentally and physically, simply owning a pet isn’t enough – we have to put in the effort to train and nurture them. Specifically, dogs need routine in their lives, just like humans. In this current situation, I’m sure dogs (and some cats) around the world are super excited that their owners are spending more time with them. However, for most, this may be a big change in their usual routine, and as owners we need to make sure that we provide strong leadership for them. At home we are the pack leader, we set the rules - but if we aren’t doing a good job, our dogs can take over that position instead!
Here is a great video from Cesar’s YouTube channel, for a simple training exercise you can do at home with your dog! And if you’re a dog lover and need more puppers in your life - join the Dogspotting Society Facebook group and make your newsfeed 95% doggos from around the world!
If you have some great tips and tricks, or simply want to show off your pets, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to email us here, with any pet pictures or exciting pet stories!