Dogs need exercise, mental stimulation and time with their beloved family. While the coronavirus epidemic has left us with worry and a serious case of cabin fever, there is one really great thing that has come out of it all—time together with the ones we love. But working from home, cooking all the time and keeping the kids from ravaging the snack stash is a lot of, well, work.
It’s easy to forget four legged buddies might not be handling the change too well either. We’ve pulled together our resources and advice, to help you find ways to entertain your dog during quarantine.
Exercising Your Dog Indoors
With a great fenced in backyard, it’s simple to exercise a dog during a long stint stuck at home. But if the dog park was the typical place to let loose, well that presents some challenges. You can check out our blog post on exercising pups in small spaces, but here’s a quick rundown.
- Utilize stairs. Even if excitedly persuading your baby up and down, stairs can be a superb workout, for both of you. If two pet parents are on hand, toss a ball back and forth while your dog follows, up and down.
- Invest in a treadmill. Yes, they make treadmills for dogs, and they are super cool. Ranging in price, there are swanky versions, and some more affordable options on sites like Amazon.
- Use interactive toys. This trails into our category below a bit, but look for interactive dog toys that will inspire movement.
Bring out the exercise pen. No fence? No problem. Exercise pens can be huge, providing enough space for at least wee little pups to roam around.
Brain Games for Dogs
Exercising the body is one thing, and the mind another. Trainers note that simple brain games can be a way to prevent destructive behavior due to mental restlessness. We’ve outlined a few super simple games from one of our own writers below, while adding on some extra ideas.
- Kitchen Games. Use household items to create games. A muffin tin makes a great treat puzzle game when you have a tennis ball to cover up goodies.
- Hide and Seek. Go traditional with a good ole fashioned game of hide and seek. Dogs seem to naturally pick up the rules. Well, we can’t guarantee they won’t try to cheat.
- Toy Hunt. Toy searching is a ton of fun, and will have pups trotting around and working that noggin at the same time. Incentivize the hunt with a super delicious treat at the end.
- Magic Tricks. This is as straight forward as it gets—move a toy around in your hands quickly, and stuff it under your arm or behind you, in hopes your dog doesn’t catch where it went. If you’re really slick, you’ll have one bewildered fur ball on your hands.
- Where’s the Ball? With a little training, a dog can pick up some serious skills when playing the classic upside-down cup shuffle, with a ball underneath one. Imagine showing off their ability to select the right one next time there’s a party.
- Teach your dog a new trick. Robbi Hess breaks down five simple tricks—like shaking hands and rolling over—you can teach your dog. Involve the kids too for family fun!
Calming Your Dog Down
Alone time is important for everyone when trapped in the house for weeks, and it’s important for Fido too. After all the games and belly scratches, he or she needs a place to retreat.
- Make Them a Special Spot. Place the bed in a quiet, calming space. That doesn’t mean you have to move it, if it’s already located where they can find comfort. Crates can really be cozied up, because they can be draped in a blanket, with cushy, dog friendly bedding inside. Our pug sleeps in our bed but likes to meander into her crate from time to time during the day. (Except for right now, or any other time I’m typing, when she’s demanding a tummy scratch.)
- Goodies! Surprise them with a favorite chew. Maybe it’s time for a new antler, or perhaps they love a specific dental chew. A nice, slow paced chomp session can be a good way to calm a pup.
At the end of the day, there’s a way to help dogs adapt to quarantined life, without exhausting pet parents who are trying to adapt to their new way of life as well. And let’s be honest, fur babies everywhere are probably tickled pink that mom and dad are home all the time. Next, we will have to figure out how to readjust when life goes back to normal!
Karyn Wofford is a “Mom” to her fluffy, sweet dog Halli. She spends much of her time traveling and advocating for Type 1 diabetes—and Halli sometimes accompanies her on her adventures. You’ll find Karyn’s work on sites like Mother Earth Living, and in magazines such as Diabetes Forecast.
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