Bognor dog trainer’s tips for bringing four-legged friends out of lockdown
Dogs might have been valuable companions over lockdown, but the transition back to normality will be as tough for them as it is for us, says a West Sussex dog trainer.
Pet sales have soared over lockdown. Figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association suggest 3.2 million households have bought a new pet over the last year and, as Covid restrictions ease up, many of those pet owners will be introducing their dogs to a new, noisier version of the world.
That’s where Lucy Rose, a 26 year old Dog trainer with several years experience, comes in.
Together with her lilac border collie Bodhie, she runs Platinum Dog Training. A dog training service which offers one to one classes, group sessions and online courses for eager dog owners all over the county.
For Miss Rose, the secret to a happy, healthy post-lockdown pooch is “socialisation”, which is more involved than some people think.
“Meeting other dogs is only about 20% of socialisation.” She said. “There’s so much more to it. Dogs need exposure to different noises, different textures, different areas.”
“I’ve been telling my students to find somewhere busy- like a car park- and just sit in the open boot with their dog. Just let them sit and absorb all the different sights and sounds and smells.”
Miss Rose emphasises that, as lockdown eases up, it will pave the way for new- and potentially scary- experiences for dogs, experiences it is important to prepare them for.
“For puppies that are six months old now, there’s a whole new world that’s about to be opened up to them. Things like going into pubs and cafes. There’s a whole generation of puppies that have missed out on that, and it’s unfortunate because they miss out on all sorts of different sounds: barrels being changed, laughter. Pubs are really good places to socialise your puppy.”
Miss Rose also has plenty of tips to socialise a dog from the comfort of your home. She says “It sounds ridiculous, I know, but dress up. Wear sunglasses when you’re giving your puppy a treat, wear a hat, wear a jacket. Wear lots of clothes to change your body shape.”
“It’s all about exposure to things. These can be really big triggers if your puppy hasn’t experienced them before. It’s like ‘Woah. That looks different, I don’t like that.’ “
Miss Rose also recommended listening to different noises on YouTube. Sounds like laughter, people talking, and traffic prepare a young dog for the kind of thing they might hear out in the post lockdown world: “Construction noises on YouTube really help because there’s not a lot of that going on right now, so when things go back to normal and there’s more of that sort of thing happening, it won’t be a big deal.”
These are relatively simple steps, but they’re important: Miss Rose makes clear that poorly socialised dogs are susceptible to a range of issues.
“A dog that’s not well socialised is more likely to become anxious, withdrawn, possibly even reactive.” She said.
To help navigate those issues, Miss Rose is also offering a free socialisation chart to anyone who gets in touch. The charts come packed with tips, tricks and activities designed to help pet parents everywhere socialise their dogs at home.