We are all going through a rough patch and these are some crazy times, but at least we have the ability to listen to the news and understand for ourselves what is going on. Unfortunately, our furry companions do not have such privilege and a lot of them are suffering during this lockdown. This article is aimed at all dog owners who due to underlying health conditions, or an imposed 2-week quarantine, are struggling to keep their dog entertained. With this article, whether you are fortunate enough to have a property on several acres, or you are in a tiny flat in a bustling city centre, I hope to shed some light and make your life (as well as your dog’s) a bit more bearable during this lockdown.
Big property and an older dog
Right now, this situation would be ideal. A dog who is 10 to12+ years with a big backyard at his disposal is likely to suffer less than a younger one stuck in a flat. If this is what your dog is used to, simply keep doing what you were doing before all of this started and it shouldn’t affect either of you too much. Nevertheless, once you are able to leave your home, take your dog out on a walk from time to time, even a short one, as you still want your dog to socialize and be social.
What if I consider myself lucky property wise but my dog is young?
Similar situation as above, but the age factor changes everything as a young dog needs way more time outside of the property. Keeping your dog entertained during lockdown should be something for you to seriously think about, as you do not want this time to negatively impact your dog’s future.
A few simple and fun tips for you:
• Set up an obstacle / agility course in your garden. You don’t need to have the “right breed” for this, as most if not all dogs love running & jumping around. Look around in your basement or garage and get out all you can use for an obstacle course, such as boxes, pallets, large pipes etc. Start by setting up something easy without crazy jumps or hazards and use tasty treats (I have just tried this new flavour and my dog loves them. Click here).
Every time they achieve something, praise them with a “good boy / girl”, a pet or a treat. If your dog is enjoying this, add something new every day (or as gradually as you can) and keep playing with your dog. Keep the first sessions short (just a few minutes) and gradually make them last longer. (You could insert an affiliate link here for agility related products)• Teach your dog how to walk on a lead. Use these 2 weeks (or however long you need to stay confined) to teach your dog how to walk on the lead, or off the lead if you are already at that stage. I am not able to cover these training techniques in this article but it’something that I will do soon.
Rather than a collar, use a harness, Dolly & I recommend this one. It is easy to place onto the dog and with minimal faff. As it comes in various sizes it is suitable for both the small and the large breeds and all those between. I found the quickest delivery was on Amazon especially if you have “Prime” and also very competitive.
If your dog already knows all of this, take it to the next level and teach your dog how to run alongside when you are jogging or on a bicycle, if this is something you would normally do outside or feel like you may take on in the future.• Teach your dog commands. This is the perfect time to teach your dog a few commands. Start with “stay”, “wait”, “sit” and “come”, which will be very handy once you are both allowed to go out again. If your dog already know all the basics, it’s probably a good time to teach them some tricks, whether for fun or tricks that you feel your dog must know.• Play hide-and-seek. If your dog knows “wait” or “stay”, ask them to do that and go hide somewhere. Once you are ready, call them out and wait to be found, and don’t forget to praise them once you have been they have discovered you also take this to the next level and instead of you hiding, use a treat or one of your t-shirts. This is one of the basics for search & rescue training and something highly rewarding, for both you and your dog. There are some online tutorials / websites that cover this type of training.
You could still do most of these things in a smaller garden, you’d just have to downsize the obstacle course and perhaps avoid the bicycle training.
We are in the city, in a small apartment and our dog is going nuts
Regardless of your dog’s age, this is not a pleasant situation and I hope that most of you out there are coping with this.
• Keep your dog entertained with food. Instead of feeding them once a day, split the meal up in 2-3 smaller snacks and use these opportunities to keep your dog busy. Teach them something new and praise them with small bites of their snack. If commands are not your thing, get your dog a puzzle feeder, ( have previously reviewed various toys, read here for further information) my favorite is Kong wobbler – puzzle feeder, it is robust and keeps them curious, simply let your dog play with it, I guarantee his curiosity will be piqued.
Another option for one of these puzzle feeders is to put alternative unusual dog friendly food in a Kong (my favorite is the great everlasting Kong. You can either freeze it (especially with something like peanut butter) or put biscuits in it (once your dog starts playing with the toy, the biscuits will fall out and I am sure your mate will quickly get the hang of it!)
- Play with your dog. This is not always something easy to do in a flat (especially if your dog gets aroused easily or they are a barker) but you can still do it as longs as you keep it under control. Avoid bouncy or noisy balls for example, especially if you have neighbours. Squeaky toys are also not always ideal so if you need to buy one, pick wisely. Dolly loves to play with one of these, which should do for you even if you live in an apartment. I have written an article about living with dogs in an apartment, read here for some great ideas and tips
- Learn soothing techniques. This is not exactly something that will keep your dog entertained but it will help you both deal with this. Learn how to properly pet your dog if you need to calm them down. There are several soothing techniques and a quick Google search will show you a few of them. Unless you are working remotely, you will probably want to use some of your time at home to relax so having a dog that can lay calmly by your side on the sofa is an important thing.
- Use some of the tips from the previous home / dog situation. It will be very hard to teach your dog how to walk on a lead if you are stuck in a flat but at the same time you can use this downtime to teach them a few tricks or commands. If over the years your dog has picked up some bad habits, this is the perfect time to teach them how to behave and you should prioritise this over anything else.
We are all struggling right now, some more so than others, but we should all do our best to keep the boat afloat, on behalf of the older populations and, in a new and different way. , our pets.
For some of us, keeping our dog entertained will be a not-so-easy task but hopefully with this article I have been able to give you some useful ideas and guidance. If your dog has been restless lately, give them some slack and avoid getting too mad about it. Try to remember that we know what is going on but they don’t, and that short walk outside twice a day is heaven for them and something they always look forward, but that now has been taken away from them. Even though we can’t explain to them what’s going on outside, we can make these strange times more bearable for them by being present and more focused on their mental health.
I wish you all a great beginning of the summer and some more peaceful times ahead.
Meantime I would love to hear what you are doing with your dog during lockdown. So please leave comments, your thoughts and discussions help others
NB The affiliate Links, if used will give me small commission, however the price is exactly the same to you the customer.
The Photos used were from Pixabay, Splash and Pixel