Ways to help a dog owning neighbour if they have to self isolate

A year on from our first lockdown we're starting to adjust to our daily walk outside and trip to the supermarket being the highlight of the week.

But when the phone rings with Test and Trace letting you know the next 10 days will be involving deliveries and a lot of time on the couch, we see that disappear.

Most supermarkets offer delivery slots and many companies have adapted to working from home, but what about the dog pacing the room and making moon eyes at his lead?

Well, neighbours can come in handy for this – but to avoid risk of cross-infection there are precautions and considerations that need to be taken into account.

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Agree beforehand

It's crucial that the owner knows where their dog is during a walk

If you're offering to walk your neighbour's dog when they're isolating, make sure you both know and agree on where you are taking their pet.

With just TV for company, they will notice if the usual 45 minute stroll is suddenly taking twice as long.

It's crucial to establish how you will take and return the dog. Ideally you should not be entering the home of anyone who has been told to self-isolate. Handing over in a secure garden is a good idea as you can fasten the lead to the dog before setting out.

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How have you been helping your neighbours during lockdown? Let us know in the comments!

Make sure your neighbour has your mobile number and that you have your phone with you. Dogs are a part of the family so it's not surprising if they start to miss their fluffy companion and want an update.

Not all dogs are allowed treats, whether they're on a diet or their owner just doesn't want their dog to snack, it's important to find out first before you try to give any treats on the walk.

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Some dogs go for runs without their lead, but there's always a panic that they won't let you get their lead back on. The safest option with a borrowed dog is to keep it on its lead, with you being unfamiliar to the pup it might be a little more hesitant to come to heal.

Hygiene

Keeping hands clean is crucial in maintaining hygiene and reducing the spread

With the pandemic, so many people have become more conscious of hygiene needs to prevent the spread.

The UK's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have said that there's no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus but there is a small chance of cross-contamination from surfaces such as their leads, collars and even their fur.

As a result it's probably a good reason to discourage any friendly petting from strangers and try to keep to the two-metre distance guidelines.

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If you have one, it would be a good idea to use your own lead and make sure to thoroughly wash your hands on leaving and entering your home.

Use hand sanitiser after touching your neighbour's gate or door and if you have access it is a good idea to wear gloves that you can put in the bin or pop on a hot wash.

Familiarity

What not to do on a walk

Battersea Dogs and Cats home advises that you should never walk dogs from different households at the same time during the current climate.

Try to keep to a route that the dog you're taking is familiar with, they might not be certain about venturing out with you but smells and sights they're used to should make it an easier journey.

Do not be tempted to drive them anywhere, even if that's how they usually go to their favourite spot.

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Dogs need to be well secured when in a car – harnesses, cages and nets in the boot are common ways to keep them in place.

Without securing the animal you could be in for a dangerous fright when a wet kiss lands on your ear as you try to round a corner.

Professional dog walkers are usually insured against accidents with public liability cover, but that shouldn’t be necessary if you’re just offering help for a few days.

This might feel like a lot of responsibility, but by helping your isolating neighbour you're doing a big favour for someone who could be on the brink of a serious illness.

The pandemic has brought so many neighbourhoods closer together with doorstep claps and food deliveries, and offering to be a safe and sensible dog-walking volunteer can only add to that important sense of community.

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