Over the pandemic, thousands more people got a dog or puppy to help with the loneliness and isolation caused by lockdown. As life slowly returns to normal, it’s no surprise that searches for pet-friendly UK rental property have increased. As this month is National Pet Month we look at the best ways you can care for your four-legged friends and find them the perfect home.
Find your new pet-friendly home
According to Google Trends, searches for pet friendly in the real estate category have dramatically increased since the first lockdown ended. This is in addition to research by the Dogs Trust that found that 78% of pet owners experienced difficulties finding a pet-friendly rental property. This is especially true for those living in cities. One of the key advantages offered by Build to Rent developments is that many of the schemes are pet-friendly. In fact, the HomeViews Build to Rent Report in 2020 found that all ten of the highest rated developments allowed pets. So if you want to truly pamper your pooch, check out one of the pet-friendly developments on our site where you will find pet stations with bags, paw wipes and treats.
Train your dog to be left alone
Let’s face it, the big winners during lockdown have been dogs. Endless walks, lots of company and plenty of affection. Older dogs have been lapping it all up but for puppies, they need to experience being left alone so they don’t develop separation anxiety. Working from home and lockdown have meant that many people who have got a puppy or adopted a dog have never needed to leave it by themselves. Although this can be lovely in the short-term, you can be storing up a whole host of issues if you don’t address the situation. Start slowly and be patient. Never react negatively or punish the dog, instead reward good behaviour with treats, affection and play.
RSPCA top tips
- Encourage your dog to go to their bed and stay there for a short while with you present.
- Ask your dog to stay while you move away. Return and reward with a treat.
- Continue this and move progressively further away and start leaving the room and shutting the door behind you.
- Start to increase the time that you can leave your dog without it getting distressed.
How to deal with separation anxiety
Some dogs will have separation anxiety, others are just easily bored. This can result in excessive barking and destructive behaviour. For both cases, there are things that you can do to help your dog feel happier at home by themselves.
- Exercise – make sure you take your dog out for the toilet and exercise before you go out. Give them their food and access to water and then naturally they will want to relax.
- Special toy – much like toddlers, dogs can get bored by the same toys. Give the dog a mentally stimulating toy such as a treat ball but only when you are out.
- Minimise disturbances – if you have a noisy dog that likes to bark at a passerby, close the curtains or blinds when you are out to reduce what your dog can see.
- Avoid punishment – if you come back to an accident or your dog has chewed something he/she shouldn’t have, then don’t tell them off because they won’t associate your anger with their earlier behaviour. Most likely, it will lead them to become more anxious about what you will do the next time you return.
- Get the professionals in – if nothing seems to be working, speak to your vet and get recommendations for an animal behaviourist.
How to toilet train a puppy
Most puppies are clever little things and are desperate to please their owners. So toilet training should be simple as long as the owner gives clear instructions, establishes a good routine and is patient.
- Young puppies need to toilet frequently so get used to taking them outside regularly, at least every hour or two.
- Attach cue words so the pup gets to understand what it is you want him/her to do.
- Lots of praise when the puppy goes to the toilet outside.
- Resist playing with the puppy outside. For now, this is the toilet patch and only start playing once they have been.
- Don’t over-feed your puppy or introduce anything other than dog food.
- Feed at regular times to establish a pattern.
- Don’t shout or punish the puppy for accidents, these will happen.
- Always go outside with the puppy so you can immediately praise and reward once they have gone to the toilet.
- Don’t use ammonia-based cleaning products because these can smell similar to urine so the puppy will think this is where they should toilet.
- Take up any rugs and try and cover carpet. It has a similar consistency to grass which puppies like to toilet on.
How to teach a puppy to go on walks
Most people imagine getting a dog and going on gorgeous walks in stunning nature. But what happens if your dog refuses to play ball? Puppies won’t automatically understand how to walk with a lead, it will be a totally new experience for them and could be a little scary. It is important to get it right from the beginning so you don’t end up with a dog that drags you around all the time or who point blank refuses to walk.
- Get the right collar or harness – never too loose or too tight. Ask in the pet shop to fit if you are not sure. Put it on and immediately distract them with a treat so they associate it with something good.
- Practice in the home – attach the lead to the dog’s collar and get them used to the sensation of walking being on a lead. Keep the lead slack in your hand to start with so they don’t become fearful and let them lead the way.
- Make it fun – use an excited voice when it comes to putting on the lead and play with them and their favourite toy so they associate it with a lovely thing to do.
- Go outside – once your puppy is happy with a lead, venture outside (once they have had all their vaccines). It may be quite overwhelming and just standing outside your apartment taking in all the new sights, sounds and smells may be enough for the first trip.
- Treats – carry treats with you to reward them for good behaviour and to encourage them to walk on.
- Be patient – take it at your dog’s pace, which could be very slow at first.
- Keep it quiet – try to stay to quiet streets initially so they don’t become too distracted.
- Commands – use simple commands such as heel, sit and stay so they are learning all the time.