As Things Start To Open Up

With socialization mediated, and our pets making a much larger part of our social dynamic, we need to make sure that we are going to continue giving them the love we have to share now even after everything opens up.

Sure, we can’t go to the gym, so we take the dog out for a walk. When the gym opens back up, will we trade the condensed time workout we get there for the relaxed exercise we are getting now with our dogs? I certainly hope not, and that we make time in our lives for both.

We can’t go out to the movies right now, so we sit on the couch watching new movies on streaming services, or old movies, or Tiger King (still haven’t watched it, but when it comes to pandemic binges, it seems to be the first one people think of). Our pets get to enjoy that time, sitting with, on, near or beside us. When we can go out to eat and watch movies, our pets are going to miss out on that time. I hope we can make sure we wean them off slowly, or make sure that we give them a share of our spare time and not spend every second doing the things we can’t do now.

On the other hand, many of our pets are getting isolated from their friends. Not being able to socialize with friends, family and neighbors, our pets are limited in this social network as well. When it comes back to the time we can interact, the dynamic shifts between the stronger bond they have built with us, to sharing us with others in a social setting, we have to be cautious that they do not become more protective of us, or fearful of others.

We all know that just because our dog is friendly doesn’t mean that they can safely interact with other dogs or people. Please make sure that if you are going to let your dog “play” with others that they are ready and willing to as well. Even just walking down the street, some people have phobias about dogs, so letting your friendly puppy run up on someone might cause them distress.

Dogs on leash seem to have a more aggressive nature than when they are off leash, as if the leash is requiring them to defend their owner. You may see this on the street, or entering the dog park, a dog that seems friendly may suddenly change when you enter the owner’s personal space as the dog goes into full protection mode. Please watch for the warning signs (hackles up, tail down, teeth barred) when you approach a new situation, both in your dog and in ones you approach.

The best policy is to always assume caution will be needed, and relax once friendly contact has been established. It isn’t hard to avoid a bad encounter, but it can be very dangerous if we do not.

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