One of the positive aspects about lockdown is that we have even more time to spend with our dogs. We can still exercise together once a day and if social distancing became the norm, it certainly makes for a much more mindful walk in the park. Less distractions: no picnics, no sunbathers, an absence of skateboarders and 'recall' is at it's the best it can ever be!
However lockdown still presents a challenge because you may be self-isolating, home school kids or work from home. However improvised, life somehow still has to continue but you never know perhaps your dog is dreaming of lockdown becoming a long term, National regulation. How will they cope once restrictions are lifted and we all go back to work?!
Here's a few tried and tested tips to keep your dog stimulated and happy:
Get up early and vary your walks, find new local routes, parks and woods
Your dog will most likely be used to more than only one walk a day. Who said though we cannot go for a longer walk than usual?
Keep your dog stimulated on walks, avoid using your phone and focus only on your time together
This is a perfect time to play and to train your dog. Teach them new commands and in the process have lots of fun
A well exercised and mentally stimulated dog is a happy one, they feel secure and can help a lot with behavioural issues and relaxation
Scatter feeding and search games: instead of using a bowl scatter their food around the house or in the garden. As your dog gets better at using their nose to find the food, you can make the hiding places harder to find
Brain games: there are many interactive toys and feeders available, designed to get your dog's brain working
Activity toys like KONGs encourage your dog to get active as they need to move them around to get the food out
Puzzle feeders are similar but require your dog to do some problem solving. These can be a little trickier, so you might have to show your dog what to do if they are struggling, or teach them some other skills first such as picking things up or pulling them
Toy stuffing is a great way of making mealtimes more engaging. Toys that you stuff with food, like the KONG, are usually made from rubber and come in different sizes to suit your dog. Start by filling the toy with dried food that will fall out fairly easily. Once your dog is comfortably getting this food out, you can gradually make things a little more challenging. You can either soak some of the dry food first or plug the end with tinned meat so that they have to really work to get the dry biscuit in the middle
New recipes: as your dog gets used to using the stuffed toy, you can increase the difficulty by packing them tighter and using sticky substances such as Marmite or peanut butter. You could also try adding various items to the stuffing mix such as fruit, vegetables, treats, fresh meat, spreadable cheese, pate etc. Variety and changing the mixture will keep their interest. The tighter you pack the food, the more challenging it will be for your dog. Just remember to put the tastiest food at the other end to spark their interest and encourage them to eat all the way through. You can even try freezing the food inside the toy using water or gravy. This will help it to last even longer and is a nice treat on a hot day
Bath time! This may result in your dog legging it to the back of the garden but it's important we keep their coats clean. Grooming generally also offers a perfect further opportunity to bond with our dogs
Down time: don't forget your dog just like us needs time to relax and to be by themselves. Ensure they have a comfortable bed, a crate or their favourite place in a quiet space
One of the leading website comparison sites GoCompare has put together a very useful guide on Coronavirus (Covid-19) and pets to help you protect yourselves and your animals from the current pandemic. Please find a link to the guide here: