These are unprecedented and uncertain times. Thankfully our pets continue to bring us comfort and mindfulness in these moments.
Ensuring your dog still has time and opportunities to exercise is important, and may also mean using some creativity to get it done.
Here are some tips to help you and your dog get the numbers on your pedometer - and pawdometer - up.
KNOW THE LATEST
If you’re well and following all health authority advice, getting out and about for a low-key walk with your dog is a great way for you to both relax and enjoy time together.
It is, however, crucial that you enact social distancing by not coming into contact with other dogs or humans, also avoid shared spaces as much as possible. To minimise risk of spreading coronavirus you should only walk with members of your household, keep these outings to a minimum; take your dog out for toileting only when needed and walk them for exercise no more than once a day.
This means no meeting up with others to walk dogs or having any doggy play dates, sadly.
WHERE TO WALK
Try and stay local and walk in areas that are free of other humans and dogs. If you happen to pass someone else, ensure you stay at least 1.5 metres apart. A friendly wave will still be welcomed from afar.
TAKE THE LEAD
Ensuring your dog is on a lead when going for a walk is all part of being a responsible pet owner, but in these times it will also help maintain social distancing. The RSPCA Knowledgebase has great advice for how to teach your puppy or dog to walk on a lead.
WHEN TO WALK
Although it’s autumn, Australia is still experiencing some warmer than usual days and it is best to avoid exercising your dog during high temperatures or in the middle of the day. This is especially true for flat-faced dogs, such as pugs and bulldogs, who aren’t always able to cool themselves as well.
Dogs should not be exercised immediately before or after eating as it can contribute to the development of problems such as bloat (which can be fatal), particularly in large ‘deep chested’ dogs such as Great Danes and German Shepherds, that have a very pronounced chest and rib cage.
WALKING FOR A GOOD CAUSE
You may have already heard the news Million Paws Walk is unable to go ahead like normally this year, because of the health crisis. The GOOD NEWS is you can still get involved with the best event on the animal welfare calendar with Million Paws Walk: Walk This May. You can register and find out all the information here.
THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE
Now is also the time to think about who will help care for your pets if you contract COVID-19 or require hospitalisation. Being prepared is important and can help prevent future stress and uncertainty.
Please continue to follow all health authority advice and check for updates: https://www.australia.gov.au/
If you have any questions or concerns about companion animals and COVID-19, please see the RSPCA Knowledgebase: kb.rspca.org.au