Spend isolation down time working with pets, exercising

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The pandemic of COVID-19 is a life changer for all of us.

Some people with health risks are quarantining themselves as best they can while others have had to adjust their family life and work.

If you have pets, you can be thankful they can provide much-needed personal therapy. On the other hand, being cooped up with kids and dogs for the long-term might be trying! Keeping one's sanity along with good health is our goal.

Currently, while we await further updates and potential restrictions, there are things we can do outside. Take a daily walk with your dog - and if you have kids, let them walk the dog. The fresh air is good for both, and you need to get them all out of the house and tired.

Dogs will be difficult to live with once their normal routine is changed and they too can suffer from anxiety. The best way to circumvent that is to keep them tired.

Want your dog exhausted? Many places offer doggie daycare, so ask around for that option. From what we know, dogs do not transmit this disease to dogs or to humans.

Parks and beaches are closed for now, so you'll need to find a safe place to walk with your dog and children. Consider a public path such as the Linear Trail in Bluffton.

Safe distancing and a change in environment is good for the whole family.

Have a large dog and a bicycle? If he's healthy, take him on a ride but not for too long. Have a small or older dog? Get a bike basket and put the little one in it. You can also get a doggie trailer that attaches to your bike and go on a long ride with any dog that is not able to go long distances.

Down time affords families opportunities to reconnect with their dogs or to refresh lessons that the dog needs work on. Hire a private dog trainer to help or look at your old training homework from previous classes.

You can even do outside group training classes if your trainer provides that. Make sure social distancing is practiced.

All work and no play is not fun, so try to find a class where you can integrate work with playtime. That might be some agility work or a dog swimming pool. Ask around, as trainers are still working and this is a great time to get it done.

These are tough times. Stay safe and love on your dog. It's good for you both!

Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com

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