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Dog walking and coronavirus

How can you exercise your dog while sticking to restrictions on leaving the house and social distancing measures? Here’s a guide to dog walking during the coronavirus pandemic.

How can you exercise your dog while sticking to restrictions on leaving the house and social distancing measures? Here’s a guide to dog walking during the coronavirus pandemic.

David Edbrooke
Sub editor
minute read
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Posted 13 MAY 2020

Please note: The information in this article was correct at the time of publication on 13 May 2020, but, because of the impact of COVID-19, things are changing rapidly. We aim to keep this page updated. But check with your insurance provider or potential provider directly, to confirm any details.

Am I allowed to leave the house to walk my dog? 

Yes, if you’re not suffering with any coronavirus symptoms or considered a vulnerable person, you can take your dog for walks.  
However, the Government advises that when outside, you should stay at least two metres away from anyone you don’t live with.  

Can I take my dog out more than once a day? 

From Wednesday 13 May, people can leave the house as many times a day as they like, for exercise. So you can walk your dog as many times a day as you wish.

Do I have to keep my dog on the lead? 

To maintain social distancing, it’s best to keep your dog on a short lead.  

If your dog isn’t used to wearing a lead, you could try slowly introducing it to the habit of wearing one, using positive rewards such as dog-friendly treats to make the transition more enjoyable.  

If you live in a rural area and there isn’t anyone else around, you might be okay to let your dog off the lead. 

Can I walk my dog with friends? 

People are being allowed to exercise outside as many times each day as they like from 13 May onwards. But you can only exercise with one person outside of your own household. In theory, then, you could walk your dog with one friend who doesn’t live with you. But you’d have to maintain two metres social distancing at all times. That also means your friend wouldn’t, for example, be able to hold your dog’s lead or touch your dog.

Can I drive to take my dog for a walk? 

From Wednesday 13 May onwards, the advice from the UK Government is that you can drive to an outdoor recreation area for exercise. That means you could drive to take your dog for a walk. However, you wouldn’t be able to do so if it first involved driving into another part of the UK where the guidance might still differ. And the government is urging people to reduce their travel and stay local as much as they can.

What can I do to keep my dog’s routine while working from home? 

Your dog will probably be loving all the extra company it’s getting from you now that the Government is advising us to stay inside. But remember that keeping your dog’s daily routine is important. A structureless day could cause your dog to have behaviour problems. Also, it could add to separation anxiety once you do go back to work away from the home, in future.

Here are some tips to maintaining a daily routine: 

  • try to start and finish work at the same time each day 
  • take your lunch break at roughly the same time every day 
  • stick to a daily feeding and walk schedule for your dog 
  • factor pet play time or mini training sessions into your own work breaks 
  • make sure your dog has somewhere to relax in your home and your secure garden premises when you’re busy working or home schooling 
  • keep your dog stimulated with games or training in place of being able to run around outside your premises. You might like to look at the Kennel Club’s suggestions for providing care for your dog during the Covid-19 outbreak. 
  • if you have a secure garden, make sure they get to spend regular breaks in it 

What should I do if I need to take my pet to the vet? 

Vets are considered key workers providing essential services, but the Government advises that, at this time, you only visit the vet if your pet needs urgent medical care.  

Make sure you call your vet before going to see them in person – they’ll be able to advise what to do. And if you do go out, remember to keep at least two meters distance and wash your hands properly before and after, to protect both you and the veterinary staff.  

Vaccinations and neutering appointments are likely to be postponed for the foreseeable future. Some vets are providing remote consultations via video conferencing for services including post-operation checks, repeat medication checks, wounds or dental problems.  

A lot of pet insurance policies provide vet advice helplines for you to use. These can be useful if you need guidance, for example if your pet is showing symptoms of ill health. 

Can dogs spread coronavirus? 

From its current understanding of the situation, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) says pets can’t spread the virus – the main route of transmission is from human to human.
However, it’s best to follow the Government’s advice, and ensure you maintain good general hygiene by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water after touching your pets and their things.

Find out more about coronavirus and pets

Can I stroke other people’s pets? 

To keep up social distancing, it’s not advisable to stroke other people’s dogs, either at their home or when out and about. When you’re out walking, try to keep you and your dog at least two meters away from other people. 

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