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Holidays with your best mate

The Dog Grumbler

IT’S holiday time.

There is no peak hour, no banking, no room in the fridge and the shopping centres are overrun with anyone who would otherwise be in school.

It’s COVID holiday time.

There’s no hugging, no yacht race, no travel, no concerts, no theatre, no Taste of Tasmania and nothing on the television.

And I’m supposed to stay away from the fridge?

On the upside there’s more time for expeditions with one’s best pal.

Of course, it’s holiday season so we can’t go to a lot of beaches in the daytime, but there are always places where dogs are welcome, and the growing number of off-lead dog parks is a wonderful convenience.

Here are some thoughts for those who are treating their dogs to park visits over the holidays.

A dog park is to a dog as side-show alley is to a kid, except they can’t get lost.

It’s a big party where dogs can make new friends, catch up with old ones and exchange messages with absentees.

It’s a place where your dog can learn that it’s good to be a dog.

Where it can learn protocols from other dogs on neutral turf, learn to play dog games.

This doesn’t mean that you are on holiday – you shouldn’t just release your dog and forget about it while you socialise with other dog owners.

Travelling together bonds dogs.

If you need to chat, encourage the other dog owner/s to walk with you. This will help your dog make friends.

In a situation like this, your dog appreciates an opportunity to tell the world “this is my team”.

That’s not to say you should walk continuously – stop and rest.

Move and rest again.

Let your dog learn to stay aware of your location.

If there are confrontations, walk away and encourage your dog to follow.

If there are potential friends, crouch down to let your dog and others know you are friendly.

Stay away from the gate unless you are using it.

Wait until it’s free, use it and move away.

These gates are a pressure cooker for dogs, inside and out.

Use them quickly and make space for the next team.

Remember that every visit is special for your dog and two short visits are better than a single long one because that way you enact all the associated rituals twice.

For many dogs, holidays are a time when someone is home all day.

For the lucky ones it’s a time when they get out more.

For most, meal quality rises to a zenith (but I’m supposed to stay away from the fridge).

It’s a strange, challenging time, but generally dogs will get through it and welcome the return of the old routine.

If the new year brings changes they will adapt as they have forever.

And as long as they are with us, they will be happy.

Whatever happens in 2021, may your dog be with you.