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Safeguarding Yourself & Your Dog on Walks When Lockdown Ends

It’s been five weeks of lockdown in South Africa in the fight against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Level 5 full lockdown meant no walkies for our dogs, which produced more sad faces, confusion and possibly even holes in the garden from frustration. But it’s also allowed us to spend more time with our furry loved ones, which I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Now that we are in sight of possibly starting to ease up on the lockdown and start moving to lower levels, it does mean that we may need to change some of our behaviours when we are eventually allowed to walk our dogs again.

Things You Should Consider When Going for Walks

  1. If you’re feeling sick, don’t walk. I think it’s really important to start off with this one. It may not necessarily be about your dogs, but you will be putting others at risk when you go outside and are not feeling well.
  2. Wear a mask – It is important to try and keep yourself as protected as possible when venturing from your home. Your dog does not need to wear a mask.
  3. Start slow – Ease into it. Our dogs fitness levels may also have suffered during the time of lockdown so don’t jump straight back into where you left off. Start slower and shorter. They’ll love just getting out and getting some sniffy time in! Possibly, also limit it to a few times per week, as opposed to every day – to limit your own exposure to possible contamination.
  4. Social distance – Take wide berths around anyone you might see in the street. As we’ve all been locked down together and all pet owners are dying to get their dogs (and themselves) out for a walk, there may be more people than usual on the roads when restrictions end. Choose your time wisely, so as to protect yourself and your dog from there being too many other people out on the roads. And if you do spot anyone else, remember to keep at least 2 meters away from them.
  5. Don’t follow behind other walkers – Ideally seek out routes that are uncrowded, so that you can minimise your interactions with others. Sometimes it may be unavoidable to walk the same direction and path as another walker. This is a precautionary measure in case the person in front of you sneezes or may be a carrier of the virus. If you can either walk on the other side of the road, or in another direction, then at least you won’t get into contact with the air droplets, and your dogs won’t step in the saliva droplets. The latter may not necessarily affect your pooch – however, if they jump up on you, they may unknowingly transfer infected particles to your clothes, hands etc.
  6. No pack walks – As with social distancing, unfortunately pack walks and walks with friends may need to wait until we are at a level 1.
  7. Stay on-lead – Keep your dog on-lead when out walking and don’t be afraid to ask people not to pet your dog. Some people may want to let their dogs roam free and get in a little run, but it is best for all concerned to refrain from that and rather keep your dog on-lead. This will help prevent situations where your dog might approach and greet other people – who may or may not be carriers.
  8. Don’t pet other people’s dogs – To protect yourself, your dogs as well as theirs. Some people do not present any symptoms, but can be carriers, so keep your hands to yourself.
  9. Wash your leashes – Wash the lead with soap and water once you have returned from the walk.
  10. Wash your hands – Wash your hands thoroughly before you leave on the walk, and when you get home.
  11. Wipe their paws – There are so many unknowns about the virus and its half-life on surfaces. So, at least until we know more, wash and wipe your dogs paws with soapy water when returning from walks outside of your property – as you just never know what they could’ve stepped in.

The tips above are all very precautionary, but rather safe than sorry, right? We are living in unprecedented times, and have no experience with how, or what me may or may not do will affect us, and those around us. So I say rather err on the side of caution to keep yourself, your family and your dogs safe.

Again, there are no confirmed instances of transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) from pets to people. However, it is possible that the virus could be passed from person to person via a surface such as a dog’s fur, collar and lead. So keep yourself and your own household as clean as can be.

Be safe everybody!

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