SOCIAL DISTANCING #flattenthecurve
If your dog is following your every move in your home and going to bed early, then you know you are doing your part to #flattenthecurve. Kidding aside, your dog is probably exhausted with you at home every day watching your every move and picking up on your stress and anxiety levels. No more weekend warriors for our dogs, it's more like covidthreeweekwarriors.
Our dogs are social beings just like us, and your dog is probably starting to feel the lack of socialization....just like us. Here are some tips to keep your dog mentally and physically entertained during this unprecedented time.
Number One: Keep a schedule.You can decide what is the best schedule for your dog, but this is an example of my morning schedule and my dogs ensure I follow it! Wake up, they go outside for a few minutes before breakfast, they eat, I eat, and then we go for a walk. We go on a different route every morning to enhance our experience outdoors. This walk is a loose leash walk and I give them the time to sniff and explore. When we return it's nap time and I can work.
Number Two: Play games.
Hide & Seek and Find It are two games that are thoroughly enjoyed in our house.
Hide & Seek is hiding from your dog in another room, in a closet, behind a piece of furniture or under the bed. You get the idea. You only need to call for them once and wait. They love this game and when they find you reward reward reward!
Find It involves food and this is my chocolate lab's favourite game! To set up the game, I have to put him a separate room with the door closed because he has "challenges" sitting and waiting as I place treats within eye sight. With him not watching me, I move around hiding treats throughout an area. I make it challenging by placing them under objects, and in obvious spots and also in spots where he might have to stretch or jump up. Once I'm ready, I give him the command "Find It" and the frenzy begins. His reward for finding it, is the treat itself, and if he can't find one I give him some time and then provide him with a verbal clue of encouragement to let him know he is close.
Number Three: Recreational bones
Bones are a great way to keep your dog busy and provide mental stimulation. It is a very fun and natural exercise for your dog. You can decide if you want to let them chew inside or outside. My dogs know if they chew inside, it has to be on their bed to reduce the mess. One amazing benefit of having your dog chew on a bone is that 15 minutes of chewing is equivalent of a 35 minute walk! Mental stimulation at it's finest. Plus it keeps their teeth clean. Just remember to select the appropriate size for your dog, don't feed weight bearing bones and keep an eye on them. Yes, we're all home right now, so I don't think supervision will be an issue.
Number Four: Quiet Time
It's important for your dog to also have their quiet time. Before the CovidCrisis, I'm sure your dog was sleeping a good part of the day. If you're able to, you should try and let them have their nap times throughout your day. This might be putting them in their crate, or leaving them in your bedroom. Both of you will feel better after their naps.
Number Five: Exercise
With social distancing, parks are closed to the public. If you're lucky enough to live in an area where you know of a walking/hiking trail that isn't busy you should try and take your dog once every few days for a good long hike where they can sprint and sniff. We're located in Muskoka and our dogs are getting a lot of exercise swimming in an ice cold lake. From jumping off the dock to running around in the water, they are able to get some bouts of exercise to keep the cabin fever at bay.
As much as we would love to cuddle all day watching Amazon Prime, your dog probably won't be that happy doing it all day. You can always work on teaching your dog new tricks and you can add variety into their diet as well. If you have any ideas or activities you are doing with your dog during this time, please add them to the comments below and I'll share them on Facebook. Please don't forget we're all doing our part to #flattenthecurve.