I am asked this nearly every day at the moment. Everything is still changing day by day, so I am not going to give you the exact details of what is ‘allowed’ as I write this column, because it will be out of date probably even by tomorrow! We do know that touch can transfer infection and the advice currently is to always wash your hands before and after touching your pets. I am not sure if you are doing this, but that’s sensible hygiene in any case, so we all should.
Moreso right now, we are all wondering if our dogs are allowed to meet other dogs, and how will it affect them if they can’t? The quick answer is, 2 metres apart is 2 metres apart, but don’t be upset because this means your dog can’t mix.
The idea of social distancing has become more normalised, and I am glad it has. Whether or not we follow it (and we definitely should!) is something that many dogs have already been doing for years. Dogs aren’t all the big, huggy and over the top creatures we may think. It’s probable that your dog likes you and wants to do this for you, but often, they won’t share that same affection with everyone.
I have to explain over and over to clients that many, many dogs do not automatically love everyone. They don’t want to meet every person and every dog on their walks or in their home. They are allowed to have those misgivings. It’s normal.
You may have the dog that does love everyone, but in return, does that mean that your dog is entitled to leap all over every person and dog they encounter? No, it doesn’t. It often causes fear, anxiety and lots of fights too.
My goal here is for you to recognise that for a lot of dogs, social distancing and lockdown have been a good thing. They don’t want to meet and greet. They perhaps want to look from a distance, or only play with people and other dogs that they actually know well. They don’t necessarily need to be life and soul of the party, and most dogs I work with are very happy to stay at least 2 metres away (and probably more). In short, they are allowed to have preferences. It is us that can overwhelm and upset them (or other dogs, or other people) by allowing and encouraging them to get far too close.
Next time you are on your walk, don’t be sorry that your dog can’t go right up to other dogs. A lot of themD probably prefer it.