Dogs Trust

UPDATE: Our rehoming centres are closed until further notice, however we are now able to rehome a small number of our amazing dogs. Each dog’s profile will let you know if they are looking for a new home. For the time-being, we are unable to register your interest for dogs who are not yet available for rehoming.

Advice for dog owners

You may be concerned about how to look after your dog with restricted time outdoors and the whole family at home a lot more. We’re here to help. Take a look at our advice to help keep your dog happy and healthy during lockdown.

Dog advice FAQs

How can I keep my dog in a routine while I’m working from home?

It can be very exciting for your dog to have you home all day but you also want to make sure you’re set up for when normal routines resume otherwise your dog could have separation anxiety when you go back to work. Ensuring your dog has as normal a routine as possible is really important. If they start to understand the new structure of the day and when they will be fed, walked and have one-to-one time with you it will help them to feel comfortable.

 It will also help to get your dog into a routine if you try to start and finish work at the same time each day, and take your break/lunch at the same sort of time – because these are times when you’re more able to connect with your dog. Factor in games and training sessions or just companion times with your dog during your breaks and evenings.

Remember that children should always be supervised around dogs, but it’s also important for everyone in the home to know the signs your dog may be showing you to let you know that they may need some space.

 

To keep your dog entertained, here are some fun tips to try:

 

  1. Have a treasure hunt– hide some of your dog’s favourite treats in different rooms around the house and see how quickly they manage to locate them.   
  2. Play their favourite game – Catch? Fetch? Tug of war? They’re all great fun to your dog! Show them some love by spending time playing their favourite game with them.   
  3. Make them their very own Snuffle Mat! - A snuffle mat is an enrichment toy that encourages your dog to sniff and search out hidden treats amongst the mat, whilst you take part in a conference all or answer those emails!
  4. Build them a Doggy Den -  Create your furry friend a cosy, comfortable place to sleep – or somewhere for them to relax when it’s time for home schooling or working from home.
  5. Teach them some new tricks! With our easy to follow Dog School videos   

 

Can I walk my dog outside?

The Government has said that healthy people who don’t have symptoms of Coronavirus and haven’t received a letter telling them to stay at home, can go outside for exercise, and this includes walking your dog.

It's important to keep two metres apart and avoid situations where your dog might go up to other people or dogs. This means walking your dog on a lead when you’re in areas with other people. Don’t be afraid to ask people not to pet your dog to ensure you keep your distance. Please stay near your home and ensure you keep your distance from others. Don’t forget to pick up after your dog and wash your hands thoroughly when you are back home. 

Can I walk my dog off lead?

It's important to keep at least two metres apart from others and avoid situations where your dog might go up to other people or dogs. This means walking your dog on a lead when in areas with other people. For more information please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-guidance-on-access-to-green-spaces and www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus    

Where dogs are not used to walking on a lead, keeping their attention on you with praise and rewards can help make walks a positive experience. You can find advice here on training your dog to walk calmly on a loose lead.

Can I still take my dog to the vet?

All veterinary practices are now required to limit face-to-face contact with clients. This means running an emergency care and emergency prescription service only.

Neutering (although important) is a preventative healthcare procedure and isn’t usually considered an emergency. As such, surgical neutering appointments will need to be made when normal services start back up again.

We have had to cancel all community events which includes our offer of free health-checks and microchipping. Please call your vet practice if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

Visit the British Veterinary Association (BVA) website to stay up to date on developments and when you can book your appointment with a vet. This continues to be updated following the latest government advice.

Can I meet my friends and their dogs for a walk?

You can exercise outdoors as much as you like with members of your own household. Current Government guidance in England is that you are able to see one person from another household at any one time, as long as you stay two metres apart. However this is not the case in Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland groups of between four and six people who do not share a household can meet up outdoors as long as they maintain a two metre distance.  

 

If you see someone you know when you are on your walk, including other dog owners, stay at least two metres apart, avoid petting their dog and wash your hands thoroughly when you get home. 

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-guidance-on-spending-time-outdoors

How do I look after my dog if I’m unwell and self-isolating?

If you are unwell and have no-one else in your household able to look after your dog, contact your friends and family or a neighbour to see if they can help. If you are self-isolating, you should not go out at all.

It’s a good idea to create a plan in advance for who would be able to walk and feed your dog and take them on comfort breaks should you find yourself unable to do this.

You could try setting up a WhatsApp group to build a connection with other dog owners in your neighbourhood. This could help you meet other dog owners, who could help to pick up essentials such as picking up dog food on a trip to the supermarket. Local Authorities or community groups may be providing additional support, so keep an eye on local noticeboards or online forums.

If that’s not possible, you might want to contact your local boarding kennels to see if they have space available.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that dogs can catch Covid-19, but we’d always recommend washing your hands before and after feeding, playing with or petting your dog. If you’ve moved recently or changed your phone number, ensure these details are up to date on your dog’s microchip.

How long should I walk my dog for? Can I take them for a longer walk in the car?

Currently there are no restrictions on the number of times you can go outside for exercise, including walking your dog. Government guidelines also allow people in England to drive as far as they like to outdoor open spaces. However, as it gets warmer, please remember to make sure your four-legged friend is comfortable and has access to water and a shaded space. For more, see here.

  Consider how you can keep your dog’s walk interesting. You could try mapping out a slightly different route in advance to give your dog a chance to experience new sights and smells. A fallen tree, bench or even a bus stop can be made into a fun activity for your dog by getting them to jump over, circle around or just place their paws on them in return for a treat. Make sure anything you ask your dog to stand on is low to the ground and sturdy enough to keep them having a fun and safe time. Try giving your dog a different trick or action for them to do at every lamppost, tree, post box, etc, rewarding them with a treat or quick game.  

How should I manage my dog around food?

You can help to manage the excitement around food, by scattering your dog’s food or by placing it in a puzzle toy somewhere else in the home – your dog will have fun sniffing out their meal while you’re eating. See here for tips on making a snuffle mat. 

Training is a great way to engage your dog’s brain and body while teaching them some really beneficial skills too, such as being polite around food and settling when you’re unable to give them your full attention. See here for fun ways to train your dog.

Someone else is walking my dog for me. How can I protect us both?

We would suggest that – where possible – you create a spare pack of dog walking essentials, including poo bags, treats and some favourite toys for you to give to the person walking your dog, which they may wish to hold on to. Ensure your dog’s collar and lead are on securely, and keep two metres apart from your dog walker, ensuring you both wash your hands after handling your dog or any toys, leads etc.  

 When handing the dog(s) over to a dog walker,  do so in a space large enough for social distancing to be maintained. Any equipment, including any vehicle used to transport the dog, must be cleaned and disinfected, while the walk should start and end at the dog’s home

Can I take my dog out more than once?

The Government has advised that each person in the household can go out with the dog once a day.

 

I’m running out of dog food, what should I do?

We would recommend ensuring you have a 14-day supply of dog food at all times and planning ahead with your food shop as you would for other essentials. If you are self-isolating and need dog food, ask a friend or neighbour to collect it for you and leave it on your doorstep.  

 

If I run out of dog food, can I give my dog human food?

Should there be a shortage of your dog’s usual food, owners may need to change food brands. We would advise, if possible, changing this gradually over a few days. If your dog has a medical condition requiring a specific diet, then taking guidance from your veterinary surgeon for details and tips on how to do this and what foods are most suitable for your dog. For general canine nutrition advice and details on poisonous foods to avoid please see this information

 

What happens if there is a shortage of dog food?

We understand people’s concerns about making sure their four-legged friend still gets his or her favourite meal time treats but, as far as we are aware, it is unlikely there will be a major shortage. Although, you may need to switch to an alternative brand if your local supplier is short.

What if I cannot afford dog food anymore?

Many food banks, such as those provided by Trussell Trust, are able to supply items such as pet food to people needing support. If they’re unable to supply such an item, food banks are able to signpost people to local organisations who might be able to help as well. To find your local food bank, click here

Any tips for managing children and dogs in the home?

Create safe spaces and sleeping places for your dog. Dogs are social animals who enjoy company, and many will want to be involved in whatever activity is happening at home. Feeling safe and secure is very important to dogs, so ensuring they have an area all of their own will help them adjust to a sudden change in routine and lots of time together in the home. Child-gates and puppy pens (similar to young children’s play-pens) can also provide dogs a safe area from which they may still remain connected to family activity.

It’s important to talk to your children about your dog’s den as a safe space to help them understand why dogs shouldn’t be disturbed when they are resting.

If you’re going to pop your dog in their den at any point, to concentrate on homework or a P.E. session for example, make sure your dog has something fun to enjoy, so that they learn that their den is always rewarding and enjoyable.

 

Make time to play with your dog. This will help prevent your dog becoming bored, restless or frustrated. Let your children know the structure of the day in advance. They may also enjoy planning games to play with your dog.

Like us, dogs don’t enjoy being teased, nor do they understand the difference between our toys and theirs, so it’s best to keep any toys they shouldn’t play with safely out of their reach.