Walking your dog safely whilst social distancing

15 Apr 2020

Pets love routine and if your pet dog is used to going for their daily walk, but is it safe to take them out for a walk during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic?

The answer is yes – but provided you follow the social distancing guidelines put in place by the Government during the pandemic. People from the same household can go out together, and you should undertake any exercise in compliance with public gathering requirements. The guidelines recommend that people keep 1.5 metres away from other people, so keep your pet on a lead and try to avoid contact with other dogs. You should also avoid crowded areas and public gatherings such as at dog parks or the dog beach, and practice good hygiene - including picking up any faeces from your pet.

As dogs are usually gregarious creatures, you might normally allow your pet dog to greet or interact with another dog when out on a walk. However, during this coronavirus pandemic, the social distancing requirements mean you should consider keeping control of your pet on a lead, and perhaps consider changing to the opposite side of the street if you see another dog and their owner approaching, and do it with a smile and a wave.

If you are concerned about taking your dog for a walk, you can also do activities with your dog in your own backyard. There are lots of fun activities which can give your pet the exercise and stimulation they need. This includes playing games of fetch, or setting up a simple agility course - such as making some low jumps or setting out a series of obstacles, and leading your dog over and around them. Always take into account the age and ability of your pet, as well as any health conditions which might be exacerbated by overly strenuous activity.

Because many pet owners are now home from work, some pets may be getting more exercise now compared to normal times. So remember not to overdo it, and if your pet normally requires regular medication for arthritis or other mobility issues, then be sure to monitor their condition and undertake exercise in moderation.

If you have to self-isolate or self-quarantine due to experiencing flu-like symptoms or if you have a positive test for COVID-19, it is advisable to minimise contact with pets during this time and obviously this means no taking the dog for a walk. You should also maintain good hygiene practices, including washing your hands before and after handling your pet. If you are unwell or need to be hospitalised, arrange with family or friends to care for your pets. 

Daily exercise has been shown to be beneficial for both people and pets, so if you follow social distancing guidelines, you and your pets can both still get outside to enjoy the fresh air during this unusual time.

For more information, check out the following articles:

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