We all find ourselves in unprecedented times, we are all feeling the strain of how the lock-down is affecting us how difficult it is not seeing our family and friends and the frustration of not being able to go out and conduct our normal daily lives.
One question I have for you is have you thought about how the lock-down is affecting your pet? Have you noticed any changes of behavior, are you worried how your pet will adjust when restrictions are lifted, and we go back to our normal lives?
I decided to write this blog to maybe give other pet owners comfort that If you have asked yourself the above questions you are not alone.
I have a 1-year old Kooikerhondje dog named Sora. Tigga Towers fans will recognise him as the red and white spaniel featured in some of the latest pictures on the website or as Sam and myself refer to him as Santos’s Doggy Twin.
To give you a bit of background as you have probably read the word Kooikerhondje and thought a what? (do not worry this is a very common reaction). Kooikerhondjes or Kooikers for short are a small spaniel type breed of dog of Dutch ancestry. They were originally used as a working dog specialising in luring ducks. Kooikers are typically cheerful, good natured, quiet and well behaved. They can however be more aloof with strangers and reactive towards dogs they do not know. Socialisation is key with this breed but also managing this is key.
Before we go any further I am not a dog trainer or behaviourist but felt there have been some changes in Sora over the last few weeks and I am in contact with his litter mates and some of his siblings are experiencing this too.
Sora has always been a happy cheerful dog and socialised well from an early age, completing several training program’s. This is an intelligent breed so I knew that training and giving him purpose would be key. However we had an episode the other week where Sora became reactive to an unfamiliar dog. We have never had this situation before and to me it was totally out of character. The owner of the other dog was fine about the situation, however an onlooker that saw the incident (which I would like to say was mostly noise) felt it necessary to come over and pass judgment. This knocked my confidence massively and I began to ask myself where had I gone wrong and what could I do to help Sora.
After seeking advice from an expert in the breed I was reassured that this is a difficult age and they gave me some exercises to carry out. I am pleased to say these have been going really well and so far we have not had a repeat of the outburst. I do however find myself asking is it just his age or could the lock-down be having just as much of an effect of him as it is me?
What I do know about Sora is he has always thrived on routine and with both myself and my husband working from home this is not part of the 'status quo' for him. Whilst we have tried to maintain aspects of his routine this is not entirely possible due to the restrictions with both of us being at home 24/7. What has helped is speaking to other pet owners. From dogs to cats and other pets many of us are noticing differences both for better or worse.
The one thing I can say is that I will never fully know if the phase and I very much hope it is a phase Sora is going through is just that fact that he is effectively becoming a teenager or if the lock-down has brought out this side of his personality. The best I can do is manage him as he is now for whatever reason.
My advice to anyone who is maybe going through the same or is concerned about their pets is speak to someone. It doesn’t have to be a trainer, even voicing your concerns to friends or family can help put your mind at rest. Remember if you are worried and feeling the strain it could be our pets are picking up on that. Try something new perhaps like teaching them a trick or create an activity to do, it will help take your mind off things as well as theirs.
Personally I think it is very important we take each day one step at a time and offer understanding to people and their pets. Be kind to one another as you truly don’t know how this is affecting not only people but our furry friends too!
Be safe everyone
Written by Carly Davies
Love Sora then follow him on Instagram - @sora_the_kooikerhondje