2020 changed us all, including our pets. We spent a lot of time indoors during lockdowns, which was an adjustment for most people, but one thing is for sure, our dogs enjoyed having their humans home a lot more. What a great opportunity to top up the love tank with your pet and strengthen your bond. If you find yourself housebound for any reason, you may like to use this time to work on some training and behaviours that you may previously not have had time for.
Here’s how our suggestions for lockdown entertainment:
Hide and treat
it’s like hide and seek but with treats! This game may also be known as Search and Sniff. All you do is hide treats all over your house and your dog finds them! Get creative! Hot tip – don’t put them in pot plants! *facepalm*
There are lots of great mental stimulation toys available out there to get your dog’s mind going. You can even create your own using empty boxes, toilet paper rolls and other household items that you would normally toss in the bin – how about you recycle them into a bundle of joy for your pet?
You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!
Teach them new tricks or brush upon some old ones. There are heaps of great sites out there with dog trainers offering up their knowledge. YouTube is another great source for training tips and how-to’s if you can just peel yourself away from the animal blooper videos.
Where are all the ballers at?
Have you got a long hallway? Use it as a ballway! Have a game of fetch in the hall – or Piggy in the Middle with another family member, but make sure you let your dog get the ball at some point so you don’t cause them a heckin’ frustration.
What’s your neighbour’s doggo like? Are they super friendly and social? If your dog is missing their dog park visits and isa social butterfly, perhaps your dog can go for a visit over the fence for a supervised play with the neighbour’s dog? You can watch them over the fence and have your neighbour’s dog over for a playdate too. Be sure to check with your neighbour first and make sure playtime is always supervised (just as you would at the dog park).
Sit down for a movie with your dog and bork at the tv together. Pick a movie with your dog’s celebrity crush and imagine their dog commentary - ‘he’s exaggerating’ or ‘I could do that stunt if I wanted to’. Some of our favourites are John Wick, Marley and Me, Turner and Hooch, Best in Show, and, of course, Red Dog.
DJ Drop the snacks!
Who let the dogs out? You did! Create a playlist for your dog and enjoy a doggo dance party. If ‘making a mix tape’ isn’t quite your thing, there are plenty available on music streaming apps and YouTube for you to enjoy.Spotify will even create one for you after asking you a few simple questions about your pet.
Give a dog a bone
We recommend raw meaty bones for dental and mental health for your dog. Chewing on a meaty bone is very stimulating for dogs and keeps their teeth clean. We recommend including a raw meaty bone in their diet a few times a week. You may swap this out for a meal (or part of a meal) depending on the size of the bone and the amount of meat on it. Bones should always be a supervised activity.
All the doggos who independent – throw your paws up at me!
Don’t forget that things will eventually go back to normal and your dog will have to get used to you going back to work. This next line is hard to type.*deep breaths* Be sure to give them alone time and not to encourage a ‘velcro pet’. This is really important for your dog, especially those that are prone to separation anxiety. Some will cope better with all these changes than others but it’s important for them to be able to cope alone. Perhaps this is yard time alone, crate time, or if they are having a nap by themselves let them be (rather than spooning them*guilty*).
You will be home with them more, so just keep an eye on the treats and table scraps, keep them mentally and physically stimulated if you’re unable to get out for walks and park play, and make sure they maintain their independence.
Your dog will be a great comfort during times of distress, they’re great for stress and loneliness, but we need to make sure that they come out the other side of this pandemic happy and healthy too.
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