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Can I walk the dog during self-isolation or lockdown?

This is a hot topic and a question we’ve notice pop up a lot in various groups over the last few weeks, “Can I walk the dog during self-isolation or lockdown?”

As fears of Coronavirus (COVID-19) sweep the globe, health authorities are issuing plenty of advice to humans. But what about our pooches?

We’ve collated advice from vets and professionals across the globe to provide you with the most up-to-date guidance on this and various other questions you may have.

Please note, we are not health or veterinary professionals, so if you are concerned or notice a change in yourself or your dog please speak to a health professional.

Can my dog get the COVID-19 virus?

The World Health Organisation confirmed that there is no evidence that dogs can become sick from the new Coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s highly unlikely they are or will be in any danger. It is possible that the virus could survive for short periods on their fur, but, there is no evidence that dogs can spread it to people.

Although there isn’t evidence for either, we recommend adopting good hygiene practices with them. Hand washing before and after being with them or handling their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing them.

If you’re sick then limit contact with your pooch, wash your hands and don’t let them lick you on the face. It’s also recommended you avoid snuggling, sharing a bed or food with them.

If you are concerned or notice a change in your dog, speak to a vet.

Should I buy my dog a face mask? Or should I wear a face mask around the dog?

No. There is no need to wear a face mask when around your dog, and there is no need for them to wear one either. There is currently no evidence that dogs can catch Coronavirus (COVID-19) from people, or pass it on, so this isn’t necessary.

We advise against putting masks on your dog, it could be distressing for them. It also may affect their ability to breathe properly, particularly flat-face breeds.

What does lockdown mean?

What does lockdown mean?

A lockdown limits the movement of the population. Workers will be told to stay at home, residents will have to apply to make any trips outside of the country, big events and ceremonies such as funerals and weddings will be suspended and so on. It’s suggested that this may take place over 30 days, but it could be more or less depending on the virus.

We recommend you have extra supplies of dog food and any medication required in case of both this scenario and self-isolation. Even if they don’t need it soon, they’re going to need it eventually.

Can I walk the dog during a lockdown

Yes, you can. Everyone has to stay home and limit social contact as much as possible. But this won’t stop you from being allowed to walk the dog outside.

Boris Johnson said that people can leave the house for one form of exercise a day. Exercise can mean a walk, run or cycle. So under those rules yes it’s fine to walk your dog, once a day as that counts as a form of exercise. If there’s two of you in the house, you can have the dog walked twice a day (useful for bigger dogs), once by each household member (on separate occasions).

We recommend finding secluded, quiet walking paths (which we have plenty of across the UK). If you notice other dogs/dog walkers, pop the lead on and social distance yourself (about two meters apart).

A friendly wave or nod to acknowledge them from that distance won’t hurt though.

Can I walk the dog during self-isolation

If you get sick and need to stay in isolation – this means you will need to stay indoors. You should not visit public areas, use public transport and you shouldn’t go for a walk.

Dogs, however, are allowed out of the house – but by asking a family member, friend or dog walker to do this for you while you recover, you risk spreading the virus further.

If somebody inside the household is well, they will be able to walk the dog during self-isolation, but will need to wash their hands and disinfect any dog walking accessories.

As frustrating as it is for both you and the dog, you will need to self-quarantine. In which case we recommend the garden for toilet breaks.

If you live in a block of flats and your outside areas are difficult to get to, it’s best to wear disposable gloves and surgical mask and taking them down for a quick toilet break. Do not spend time in close contact with other people and keep your distance.

Are there ways I can keep the dog occupied at home without going outside?

Ensuring your pooch continues to get daily activity is important for both their physical and mental health.

Mental stimulation is a great way to keep your dog entertained and occupied. Replace exercise with some of the following activities until you are able to continue the usual walks.

  1. Use Kongs or foodie puzzles to get them thinking. Click here for a list of DIY enrichment games and puzzles that can be created at home.
  2. Dogs LOVE to play, especially with their humans. No doubt your pooch has a box full of toys. Set aside some time to have a good game of fetch or tug. 
  3. Learn a new trick! Perfect for mental stimulation. Grab the treats and download the Doggo app for ideas.
  4. Sniffing games! Scent work will keep them occupied for ages! Hide treats around the garden or house and send them off to find them.
  5. Play Spotify’s new podcast, ‘My Dog’s Favourite Podcast. It has a range of carefully selected spoken word, sound and original music designed to encourage your pooch to relax.

Can I walk the neighbour’s dog?

There is no official guidance on this, but the government has advised against it by saying people shouldn’t walk their neighbour’s dog and that they should be walked by the dog’s owner instead.

Above all of this, stay safe and don’t abandon your pooches! Do you have any further advice or ideas for dog owners to keep their dogs occupied indoors? Comment below.


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  1. I’ve 4 dogs to walk on my own if I have to self isolate does that mean that I can’t take them out …I don’t have any one to walk them for me

  2. Hi I am dropping my dog at my mum who is 80yrs old and lives alone for a couple of hours each day. She normally has her when i’m at work at present i have no contact with mum, i don’t go in the house. My mum loves the dog very much and is good company. Is this safe?

  3. I live on my own in a flat and there is no garden or outside space. I usually take the dog out into the street for the toilet. I am only going to walk her properly once a day but am I still ok to take her out for a quick piddle first and last thing? She needs the toilet more than once a day. I am also still working as a community pharmacist so am already having to leave her for long periods of time.

    • Hi Emma,
      As long as you keep a safe distance from anyone else and the dog is on a short lead at all times. I would stay as close to your property as possible I think you should be okay. As always make sure you clean up any dog mess and I would look into adding puppy pads to your next weekly shop 🙂

  4. Could someone advise me please I live alone and I am self isolating as in the high risk group I have no symptoms .My dog is walked on a one to one basis five times per week as she’s reactive and very strong Can my dog walker continue if we have no contact and he doesn’t enter the house but collects and returns my dog to the front garden which is secure and he attaches removes and keeps the collar and prevent any surface transfer He doesn’t walk any other dogs so could this count as his daily exercise.I’m very confused as we have been told people are only allowed to go to work if unable to do this from home clearly he would have to travel in his car This presently this is his only employment as his other business has presently had to cease trading Therefore this would be his only return trip made from his home for work
    I just need to know what’s the most responsible thing to do
    Thank you

    • Hi Carole,
      We suggest that you please follow government and healthcare advise wherever possible.
      Our opinion would be that if you and your dog walker are happy for this to be your dog walker’s daily exercise this should be okay however if he needs to travel in the car to get to your property this is would be against government advise and we would also advise against it.
      The handover period sounds like you are taking every precaution to avoid transfer however be aware that the advise on whether COVID-19 can be transferred whilst stroking your dog is unclear at the moment so as a matter of precaution I would ask you dog walk to avoid touching the dog wherever possible.
      Of course if your dog walker shows symptoms of COVID-19 he must self-isolate and cease dog walks for at least 14 days.

  5. I am in the high risk group due to the medicine I take for RA and have been told by my GP to stay at home. Can I walk my dog as part of daily exercise?

    • Hi Lesley, you would need to seek further advise from you GP on this, we’re not medical experts so we’re unaware how this medication will effect your chances of contracting COVID-19. If you have been given the all clear to take your pooch for a walkies make sure you allow even more distance between you and anyone else.

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