Is your head spinning like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist trying to keep the latest Covid-19 closures, restrictions, and health precautions straight? Boy, do we know how you feel! As we enter the extended holiday weekend and celebrate Independence Day in the strangest-year-in-the-history-of-ever, we thought we would try to help you prepare. While beaches are closed over the holiday weekend, it appears that many dog parks are open (for the latest information on dog park closures and information in Ventura County, try here). To that end, here are some practical ways to practice dog park etiquette during Covid-19.
Dog Parks and Covid-19: What Are the Rules?
Each dog park has a published set of rules that should be adhered to whether Covid-19 is an issue or not. Those rules include all the normal aspects you would expect as a responsible dog owner, including things like when it’s appropriate to remove a leash, vaccination requirements, cleaning up your dogs poo, and so forth. Aside from that, there is very little information published by the parks themselves that give guidance for Covid-19. This is probably because both the World Health Animal Organization and the Centers for Disease Control acknowledge that there are very few cases of canines with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and no indication that canines can transmit to one another or to humans.
Humans, on the other hand, are a different story. Therefore, there are several things you can do to protect yourself and your lovable K9 while you’re out enjoying the sun and exercise. Here are a few:
- Don’t go out if you’re feeling ill
- Maintain social distance at the dog park with others
- Avoid dog parks (and parking lots) filled with cars and people
- Don’t use the dog park as an opportunity to socialize and gather
- Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize
While there is not enough evidence about the ability of the virus to remain on fur, it never hurts to proceed out of an abundance of caution. Wipe down your furry friend before getting back into the car or your home. Take along hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently. And, as always, wear a mask. These steps will help to ensure you and your pet remain healthy and safe.
Dog Walking and Social Distancing
Dog walkers should take extra precautions since they interact with pet owners frequently and humans carry the greatest risk. Fortunately, we found this handy-dandy infographic on DogTrekker that captures some great points.
How Should Dog Walkers Engage With Clients?
It is important to understand how to provide care for your clients’ dogs in a way that is safe for both you and your clients. In order to minimize both your and your clients’ risk of infection, there are specific precautions you can take:
- Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) frequently during the course of the day.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Try not to enter homes, if possible. If you must, don’t remain for extended periods of time.
- Try not to touch any objects in the home. Consider using gloves on doorknobs or sanitizing upon leaving a home.
- Use your own leashes and sanitize them daily.
- Always maintain 6-feet of physical distance.
- Identify routes and trails that aren’t heavily populated.
Additionally, and this one is hard, try not to give the pet smooches and hugs. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Taking these steps protect you, your clients, and the pets you both love.
Develop a Screening Tool for Your Clients
Prior to walks, it is a good habit to develop a checklist to review with your clients to ensure nothing has changed with their health or others in the home. Here are the questions you want to include. Has anyone in the residence:
- Developed respiratory symptoms or fever?
- Been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19?
- Been potentially exposed in a work or other setting?
- Traveled internationally or to a domestic hot spot?
Hopefully, these tips and tricks are helpful and will allow you to protect yourself this holiday weekend and in the future. We will get through this. #StrongerTogether.
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