Keeping your dog entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic
Alison Laurie-Chalmers, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets
In these worrying times here is some advice on how to keep your dog entertained and stimulated during the Corona virus pandemic. We are all being asked to stay safe and stay home and although sometimes frustrating, this is an essential and temporary situation for all of our well-being. If you have a pet dog at home, there are some things that you can do to help make this time a little bit easier. Bored dogs will eventually show some behavioural problems so it is important that you provide them with additional activities in your home or garden to keep them entertained.
Stick to a regular routine
Being at home all day will likely be a change for you but a big bonus for your dog! Dogs do like to have some structure and stability so try to stick to a fairly regular daily routine if at all possible. This will help them know what to expect from their day. Also, with the household generally busier, especially with children more at home, try to also provide your dog with some quiet time in the day where they can be left by themselves. This is important especially for elderly dogs and also it will prepare them for when you do go back to work.
Make meal times fun
Make their meal times more interesting and stimulating for them. You could use puzzle feeders or toys in which you can hide some of their food. Split their daily food ration into smaller meals at their usual feed time and use the remainder of their daily food allocation as “treats”. Hide and fetch scent work using these treats can be a great way to keep dogs busy in the home or garden.
Most dogs love playing so an indoor fetch or tug of war game can keep them entertained for hours. Remember if you are playing with your dog inside the house, try to ensure that they play safely on flat, non-slip surfaces to avoid any injury. If you have the room, try creating an obstacle course using some toys, cushions, blankets, towels or anything you can think of. Get them to jump over a scrunched up blanket or weave through cushions. Take time to teach your dog how to run a set course and repeat and reward them afterwards. Give them regular breaks from any vigorous play and access to plenty fresh clean water at all times.
Teach them something new
Use plenty of safe, dog friendly toys and dental chews to keep them stimulated. If you have a lot of dog toys, then limit them and bring out new one each day to alleviate boredom as a “new” toy is always more exciting. Learning a brand new command is great stimulation for a dog and they love praise for this. Try teaching some new commands such as roll over and wait. If you have a garden, then playing outside will offer plenty of things to investigate and smell to help keep them stimulated and happy. Give them things to watch and listen to. During the daytime keep the curtains or blinds open so that your dog can see what’s going on in the outside world. Also some dogs actually enjoy Classic FM or watching TV! There are dog friendly podcasts for them to listen to and TV for dogs on YouTube, to provide them with other types of visual interest and mental stimulation.