Fun ways to entertain (you and) your dog during the coronavirus lockdown
Exercising your dog is a vital part of keeping them fit and healthy. The problem we all have at the moment is that we must all comply with social distancing and we can only go out once a day to exercise, as the country comes together to combat the coronavirus.
Our normal routines have changed for a lot of us, and there are additional concerns for a lot of people. You might notice a change in your dog as they don’t understand what is going on. They miss their additional walks, meeting with their doggy buddies and human buddies too.
As well as walking your dog, there are lots of other things you can do to ensure they get lots of exercise (physical and mental) and have fun along the way, whilst complying with government guidelines.
Ways to make your walks more interesting
Our dogs do not understand that we have to stay so far away from other people. We can vary the route we take from our door, giving our dogs a change of scene and fresh sniffs. Give your dog the time to sniff as you walk so they can take in as much information as they can. This data processing will make their one walk more enjoyable for them.
You could do some whistle training part way round your walk. Some on lead recalls, some obedience training at odd points on the walk to mix it up a bit for your dog.
Heelwork to music or ‘Dog Dancing’
You might think this is not for you. But it is great fun and you have a good giggle whether you’ve got good rhythm or not. And it is also mentally challenging for your dog, you’ll find things that your dog does naturally that look amazing when set to music. The important thing to remember is that your dog doesn’t care what you look like and the two of you can have a lot of fun while both exercising. If you want some inspiration you could watch Youtube videos of Richard Curtis, Mary Ray or my personal favourite The Southern Counties Golden Retriever Display Team https://www.facebook.com/pg/Southern-Golden-Retriever-Display-Team-103958199635645/videos/?ref=page_internal
Now we obviously can’t go to training classes at this time. What we can do is take breaks during our day of 5-10 minutes and spend these bite sized breaks doing obedience training either in our back garden or inside the house, you’ll be amazed how much this makes a difference. These small sessions will tire you’re dog out mentally, but remember to always finish on a high. So your dog remembers the last thing he did was great as he rests.
Puzzle toys are a great way to stimulate dogs minds as well as their bodies as they work out how to get their food, with some puzzle toys you can increase the level of difficulty. Bring these out for a short game and watch as your dog progresses.
You don’t have to have a puzzle toy, you can make your own. Find some plastic cups or use any holders you have handy. Start by putting a treat under each cup, you want your dog to win. Then as he gets the hang of nudging the holder with the treat under it gradually make it more difficult by having 3 cups and treats under 2 of them, gradually increasing the difficulty. This makes your dog work harder by working out for himself where the treat is. Once he touches the cup lift it for him and let him have his reward.
‘Find it’ Game
Find the Treat, Ball or favourite toys – hide treats, balls or toys around your house and/or garden so your dog can have extra fun finding them. Just remember where you’ve hidden them so that you can direct your dog to collect them all, he will think you are so clever, this is a great way to get your dog to take direction from you in a really fun way.
Paddling Pools and Sand pits
As the clocks spring forward and hopefully the weather continues to improve you might like to create a paddling pool in the garden. You can buy these second hand on the internet or buy a sturdy plastic tray from the hardware store, the depth will depend on the size of your dog. With social distancing in mind you could have a good hunt to see what you have available that you could repurpose. Supervision always required to keep your doggie safe.
The same as for the paddling pool you could make your own sand pit. You can use the same sturdy plastic trays or paddling pools as above. Ones with lids are best for protecting the sand from the elements and you can then give access to the sand pit as a treat to entertain and have fun with your dog. They will be able to happily dig in the sand rather than your flower beds!
Dog groomers have had to close down as the country is in lockdown to combat coronavirus. Your dog may be missing his regular groom appointment and may becoming a bit of a shaggy doggy. Make time to keep your dog’s coat in good condition. Grooming your dog at home is a great way to bond with your dog, some dogs will get up and come to you as soon as you get the brush out, they love the attention.
Hold the brush lightly in your hand and use the whole brush from the front to the back, lightly brush your dog’s coat and let the tines work through the coat, then go over where you have brushed with a comb to make sure that there are no knots left in the coat and that the comb can reach the skin so the coat isn’t matted. Don’t brush any one area too much as you don’t want to make the skin sore by too much brushing. This will help keep your dogs coat free from dirt, allow air to get to their skin, remove debris and prevent their fur from becoming knotty or matted which will leave them feeling great!
Loves and fuss
And the best thing of all is to show affection. Most of our doggies enjoy being stroked, love a fuss and cuddling up with us. So, after trying out some of these ideas, why not snuggle up with your pooch and show them some love!
Stay safe and take care and……..
Have fun with your dog!