I have been struggling for a while now for inspiration to write a blog post, and it just wasn’t coming to me. Lots of excellent articles already out there for tips during lockdown, challenges to do with your dogs, ways to keep your dogs occupied etc.
It occurred to me, that I won’t be the only one feeling like this. Perhaps you just don’t have the inspiration to be doing that much with your dogs? Maybe adjusting to the isolation of lockdown, having the kids at home all day, or learning all the tech to work from home is just enough right now.
Would you rather you and your dog curl up on the sofa together instead of spending your time in lockdown teaching Rover how to make you a cup of tea? It depends entirely on your dog and his personality, but you know, he might prefer that too!
Is your dog feeling a bit out of sorts because you’re home way more than she’s used to, and you can tell that really she’d just like you to leave her alone for a bit? Or maybe you’d actually like to just get some time away from everyone locked down in your house, including your beloved dog?
Guess what, you’re not alone! I have felt like that too. And it’s okay.
What?! Did a dog trainer, who has built her whole life around dogs, prioritises her own dogs above everything and other people’s dogs above most things, really just say she wants to spend some time away from her dogs?! Did she really just say it’s okay to not train your dog?
I see all of the challenges to do with your dogs during lockdown, and all the enrichment to keep your dogs entertained etc. and I think it’s great, and I think some dogs really need that. I’ve had those dogs. The dogs that didn’t want to stop, that wanted to learn all day long, you know the type that if they’d been human children they’d have never been at home because of all their extra-curricular activities?
But I currently have dogs that want to go for a walk so they can sniff and I have to urge them to keep moving rather than the other way around, when we get home, they want a cuddle on the sofa, and their dinner put in an easy to access bowl, not a puzzle that just frustrates them when they’re hungry and honestly, I’m SO glad that I have those dogs!
Despite being used to working from home a lot, and regularly joking that my bin goes out more than I do, lockdown has affected me. I’m very tired, I’m struggling to structure my day, I can’t get any help from outsiders so the things I would normally get help with around the house are left down to me and I’m relieved that my dogs are quite happy to snuggle down and have a cuddle. And that’s what we do!
Don’t get me wrong – it’s affecting them too. They aren’t sure about the whole conducting 1-1s online, so mum is in the room but not ‘present’ and we can’t howl at her for attention. Radan’s taken to joining most of my zoom calls now because that way he is quiet rather than working harder to get my attention. He’s also managed to get his dinner a half hour earlier than he usually would because I’m home and there’s only so long I can listen to the canine equivalent of ‘mommmmm I’m huuuuungry’! And yes, we have fallen out when they have got on my nerves!
So why am I telling you this? For me, this is a scary thing to admit. My living comes from helping people to live with, and train their dogs. And now I’m admitting that I sometimes struggle to live with, and train my own!
I’m telling you because I want you to know that you’re not alone, nor should you feel guilty or ashamed or like you’re letting your dog down if you need some time apart (all healthy relationships involve time apart!) or if you can’t bring yourself to train for a day, a week, two weeks, whatever. You don’t have to train with your dog to connect with her. Dogs need to relax and chill out too, and they’d much rather do it with their best friend.
We all struggle, and there was nothing more liberating for me, than learning that even those I look upto in the dog training world sometimes struggle too!
Remember that whatever anyone tells you, whatever the bouncy, smiley dog trainers with their Instagram and Facebook training challenges, indomitable energy, and apparently perfectly behaved pooches say, wherever there are roses, there is shit!