Fun at Home with Your Dog (Shih Tzu) by Janice Jones |Published 03-19-2020
As we deal with Covid-19, we both know that it won’t last forever, but also understand that the new normal is nothing that most of us have ever experienced in our lifetime. Sure some of us have family stories passed down through generations of the Spanish Flu of 1918, but for the majority of people living today, this is all new territory.
I’m not in the position to explain what is happening here or anywhere in the world. I would like to provide some suggestions for you to make the best use of your time if you find that you must self-quarantine with your family and your small dog. For the best sources of information about Corvid-19, may I recommend you check with reliable sources such as The World Health Organization (WHO), The Centers For Disease Control (CDC), The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
It is my understanding from various sources (see above) that there have been no known cases of CORVID-19 in pets, including Shih Tzu. You’ve probably seen the reports of a dog in China that had tested positive for the virus. After reviewing the case, experts have come to one conclusion; the virus contaminated the dog from his owner.
To be perfectly safe, don’t rely on news coming from Facebook posts, politicians, or well-meaning friends. In the case of a pandemic, it is always better to go straight to the source: the experts—scientist.
Some veterinary hospitals are also sending out emails to their clientele. If yours is not, call to find out if hours or office protocols have changed.
Many veterinarians are asking clients to stay in their cars while an assistant or vet tech brings the dog into the center. The dog is then examined as usual and then brought back to you while you rest safe and healthy in the comfort of your car.
While at home, why not make the most of working from home or sheltering in place, with activities that might benefit both you and your small dog. It's not so hard to think of things to do to have fun at home with your dog.
It is no secret that dogs tune into our emotions, so if you are wondering why your dog is acting more lethargic or agitated, there is a good chance your pup is responding to your feeling. If you are showing signs of anxiety and depression, your dog may act out in ways you’ve never seen before. Retraining positively is the best advice to give. Shouting or screaming at a dog that is misbehaving is counterproductive and will only scare them, making them warier of you.
While it is nearly impossible to mask our feelings or emotional status, it is possible to plan to use this time of sheltering in place with to benefit not only ourselves but our dogs as well. So, why not have fun at home with your dog -- it will take your mind off of a very troubling situation and also put your dog at ease.
Assuming you are in good health, there are many ways you can make the best of a bad situation. How can you stay positive and have fun at home with your dog?
#1 Use the time to do some initial training or retraining for basic commands such as sit, stay, come, down, or other commands. Many dogs find training to be challenging and enjoy the bonding experience. Be sure to offer some delicious training treats such as fresh meat or poultry, to make it worth their while. Remember, many Shih Tzu dogs are very stubborn and will want to know what's in it for them. A delicious treat or extra affection might be all it takes to get them interested in having fun.
#2. Take your small dog on a short walk. If you do interact with other dog owners, please keep a social distance of approximately 6 feet and encourage your dog to remain apart from any other dogs. If your dog resists the effort to take a walk, don't despair, this is a great time to teach him to walk nicely on a leash. You can still have fun at home with your dog knowing that you are teaching him a valuable lesson.
#3. Learn how to do canine massage. Not only can massage improve health but also aid the canine-human bond, but you could learn a new skill that might come in handy in the future. If you find you truly love doing massage on your dog, you may decide to look into an online certification course and turn your passion into a profession.
#4. Love crafts? Why not spend the time knitting or crocheting a sweater for your dog, or making a cozy blanket that is not only sew-free but every easy to make. Amazon is a great place to find a book that has simple, fast instructions.
#5. Why not start a dog diary? It is never to early to start a puppy diary for your dog that is similar to a baby book you might create for a human baby. All of those firsts can be recorded for posterity, including first haircuts, spay/neuter operations, and a diary of those special puppy outings. Journaling is also a way to reduce stress and put things into perspective. Start a log of your own describing what you are going through. Add content about how your family is coping, what has changed in your life, what remains the same. Read it aloud to your dog. Maybe it will be a great start to a book someday.
#6. For dogs that are reliable with basic commands, have you considered training your dog for a trick such as rolling over, high five, or something that might impress an audience? Tricks are some of those commands that people love to watch. Trick training doesn't need to be difficult. Film your dog doing his thing and become the next YouTube superstar.
#7. Take the opportunity to do a thorough cleaning of dog spaces, including deep cleaning of the woodwork, floors, carpet, and other places accessible to pets. If cleaning supplies are hard to find in your area, consider old fashioned products such as vinegar and water or household ammonia. If using ammonia, dilute according to the package direction and separate your dog from the area until the surfaces are completely dry. While cleaning may not seem like the best way to have fun at home with your dog, it is something that is needed periodically to keep everyone healthy.
#8. Make dog treats for your dog. Here is a treat recipe that is a favorite around here and easy to make:
#9. Cuddle together on the sofa and binge-watch your favorite shows. This one requires no explanation.
#10. Do an internet search for pet-friendly vacations and make your bucket list of places to visit when this virus has passed, and it will. If you never ventured out with a dog, a pet-friendly road trip or plane trip is well worth it, in my opinion. Always do your homework before you go. But remember, now is not the time for a quick weekend getaway. Planning, however, can be a fun way to spend your time if you’re sheltering in place.
#11. Every thought about Dog-Yoga? Yes, it is a thing and very popular among millennials and it is called Doga. A quick Google search returned 553,000,000 results. You can even take a DoGa class, but this isn’t recommended during a world pandemic.
12. Bone up on your grooming skills, and while you’re at it, give your dog a pedicure complete with nail polish. If you do decide to paint your dog’s nails, don’t use your own polish. Human nail polish contains dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde, which are toxic to dogs. Instead, order a bottle online or purchase a dog-specific nail polish from your favorite offline store.
13. Try experimenting with music and see how your dog reacts. If you always play rock, try jazz or country. You can even get music that has been shown to reduce stress and calm your pet. A great source of soothing music is through 15 hours of free music on YouTube. Beware, it might put you to sleep too, but it is very calming for dogs.
14. Like to take pictures of your dog(s)? Here’s a great time to take advantage of some bonus time and learn some common photography skills such as the use of your camera or smartphone, lighting, camera angles, and editing. A straightforward editing program that I use every day to edit my puppy pictures is Picmonkey. It is free, but there is also a paid version that offers more features. Who knows, maybe your dog will become an overnight Instagram sensation.
If you are working from home, chances are you will be spending time on your computer. Allow your dog to be part of your day, if at all possible. Walling yourself in an office with a shut door is likely to cause barking and howling. Trust me, I work from home every day and had no idea that Shih Tzu dogs could howl the way they do when they want attention.
Put your dog’s bed or a soft blanket under your desk as you work, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how comforting your dog’s presence is to you. It is a two-way street, too, so know you are making your Shih Tzu very happy being so close to you.
Of course, you can be the Dog Mom or Dad of the Year if you also store a few tasty treats in your desk drawer. Don’t forget to take breaks from your work and take your dog for a short walk. It will do wonders for both your emotional health and raise morale.
Nothing lasts forever, even when you are in the thick of things. Stay positive if you can and connect to loved ones, even if it’s just a phone call or a quick message. I hope that some of these ideas will help you make the best of a bad situation. Who knows, you may end up coming out of this smarter and more resilient than you ever thought possible.
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