How to Engage with Your Dog During Quarantine

Posted by Gretchen Vanderford on May 4th 2020

We are not able to go to our beloved dog shows or handling classes, so what can you do to fill the gaps? Some thoughts:

Train you and your dog to what the future of shows might look like… masks, gloves, and sanitizing alcohol could all become staples of the future. First, get yourself comfortable with a mask on moving around going through your show routine. If it needs constant adjustment or does not stay on that will create a problem/annoyance at a show. For your dog, get them used to seeing you in a mask, being gone over by someone with a mask on, and get them used to being touched with someone with sanitary gloves on or the smell of abundant hand sanitizer. In all likelihood that is what we will face at dog shows at least for a while.

Other things you can do to while in isolation to work on your showing skills:

  1. There are many books and videos that instruct on specific handling skills, learn them and practice them until they become second nature to you. Then when you go back into the ring you will not feel so nervous. There are also many handlers that are offering online coaching if you are running into a problem or feel you need extra help. Reach out and see if they would be willing to work with you.
  2. Play dog show- groom your dog like you were going to a show get yourself dressed up and take your dog out to the back yard and show them, have a family member video you. Watch the video- does the video match what you have in your head? Where can you improve, learn, practice and try again?
  3. Work on the dog’s fitness in the house using different props to engage different parts of the dog’s body.
    1. Teach the dog to stand front feet, back feet or all 4 feet on an upside-down appropriately sized bucket or exercise ball, then get them to move while positioned on the item i.e. move rear around while front is on the bucket/ball.
    2. Set 2 buckets up upside down with a broom handle across them and have the dog jump back and forth over the handle.
    3. Work on a new skill, such as obedience/rally, tricks, or musical freestyle to name a few. Once again there are many videos available on the internet to provide instruction.
    4. Nose work can start with a fun game of “find it”. Find hidden treats placed around the house to make it a game.
  4. Fine tune or learn grooming skills, there are an abundance of videos on the internet to help you improve or learn with your specific breed.
  5. Learn more about your breed standard, strive to really understand it!
    1. Where did your breed come from and what is the history of the breed?
    2. What is the purpose of the breed why does your breed have certain traits or characteristics? How did they assist with the original purpose?
    3. Who were some of the great dogs in your breed, and what made them great?
    4. How does your dog fit into the standard and what are their best points that you want to show off? What are the points that you want to avoid showing off?

Until we can resume some semblance of life as we knew it don’t just waste your time binge watching Netflix, enjoy it—engage with your dog—learn new skills and come out of it with a new competitive edge!