During these difficult times our dogs are proving a marvellous comfort. They’ve become our co-workers, our exercise buddies and so much more. They are cheering moments on social media and – as we’ve always known – they are the very best friends we could possibly want.
With the landscape we live in rapidly changing, how do we take the very best care of them? We caught up with a couple of experts to find out…
We’ve all seen empty shelves and it’s so easy to worry about food supplies. The good news is there is no shortage of dog food out there and Skinner’s, which makes its dry food here in the UK, in Suffolk, is confident the nation’s dogs can continue to eat well during the crisis.
Managing Director Tim Hansell says: “It is very much business as usual at Skinner’s Pet Foods. We have increased production to seven days a week to keep up with the short-term spike in demand, as some people have been panic buying pet food alongside other essential items, such as food and toiletries. That said, we do expect things to normalise over the coming weeks – after all the nation’s nine million dogs can only eat so much food!
“From a Skinner’s perspective, we don’t currently foresee any supply issues in the future. Most of our ingredients are locally sourced and, with dog food being an ‘essential item’, the nation’s dogs shouldn’t go hungry.”
It’s worth heading over to Skinners for a feeding guide packed full of useful information to ensure your dog is getting the ideal quantity of the right food during this time of change.
One thing to remember is that the situation may have brought about a change in your dog’s exercise routine. If you are self-isolating, they may be getting less exercise than usual. If various family members are taking them on walks as part of their daily exercise routine, they may be getting more.
Dog lovers will be aware of Channel 5’s rather brilliant and hugely entertaining Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly. We asked its presenter – master dog trainer Graeme Hall – how he would suggest making sure our dogs are happy and healthy right now. And, importantly, how we can balance home working, childcare and more with meeting our dogs’ needs.
He says: “Reward calm behaviour if you’re confined because now is the time you need a calm dog. Ironically, we often forget to praise them when they settle down. If we don’t tell them what we want them to do, how do they know? Use calm praise or you’ll only rev them back up again.”
Dog walks have become a high point of the day for many of us, so what’s Graeme’s advice on keeping safe.
He says: “If it’s safe for you to get out and keep the right distance, then do get out. Follow the latest government guidelines. A bit of fresh air and exercise is good for our physical and mental health – and your dog’s too!
“Don’t let your dog run up to people for a fuss. It’s never good practice, but it’s even more important now. Practice fun recall instead, using high value treats. If in doubt, pop your dog back on lead when other people are about. They’ll appreciate your courtesy.”
Should your dog fall ill, vets are still providing emergency services, as well as advice over the phone. Call your regular vet and if they can’t help they will be able to point you in the right direction.
If you’re not able to get out as much with your dog, toys will become all the more important. Why not take a look at the ones on offer at AGA Cookshop. Playing hide and seek, fetch or even tug of war with an interesting new toy is sure to keep your dog’s brain exercised. There’s also a selection of dog beds and super-smart leads and collars if you’re looking to ensure your dog gets a good night’s sleep and looks his best on his walk.
Above all else, our dogs are keeping up our spirits right now, so if you love super-cute pics and tales of animal adventures, head over to our social media accounts where you’ll find dogs, cats and the occasional pony or goat enjoying snuggling up in front of AGA cookers.
*We’re hugely grateful to Graeme for offering his advice free of charge. If you want to see him in action, head over to My5, where each episode from the latest series of Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly is available to watch.