Posted 6 months ago ago
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If you have a particularly active dog, you may have been concerned about your pet getting enough exercise during the changing coronavirus lockdown restrictions, particularly if you or a member of your household has had to self-isolate with either Covid-19 symptoms or due to a contact-tracing alert.
While guidelines state that other people are allowed to walk your dog if you are unable to leave your house, it may be a good idea to find ways to keep your dog active at home to avoid them getting restless or lethargic.
According to Government guidance, alternative arrangements must be made for dog-walking while self-isolating, as you cannot leave your home in the 10 days since you or a member of your household have had symptoms of coronavirus.
The guidance reads: “If your dog cannot be exercised at home, you should ask someone outside of your household or support bubble to walk your dog for you, or access walking services provided by a professional. You should notify anyone walking your dog on your behalf in advance that you're self-isolating and arrange a no-contact service where possible.”
But for those times between walks from kind neighbours and friends, here are a few ideas for keeping your pup active in your own home - either inside or in your garden if you have a pet-secure one.
Credit - Elizabeth Davidson
Problem-solving toys can provide a brilliant mental workout for your pet if they're getting a little bored of staying inside. Below are a few examples that should keep dogs busy for hours while you are recovering or working from home.
- Classic Kong - a Kong toy can provide an excellent mental workout if filled with a little bit of peanut butter (make sure that it's free of xylitol, which is toxic to dogs) as they work to get every tasty scrap out.
- Squeaking toy - you might want to keep your Zoom meeting on mute for a squeaking toy, but the noise and texture will keep your dog amused for slightly longer than a silent toy might.
- Snuffle mat: Dog's Trust has created a tutorial for making your own DIY snuffle mat, which can keep your dog busy sniffing out treats for hours, ensuring that their brain stays nicely active.
While your dog is in another room, hide a few treats in unexpected places (think placed on top of a low table or underneath a rug) and see if your pup can find them. Not only will this be a good source of entertainment, but sniffing around the room will get them up and moving if they've been lazing around for too long.
While it might not be advisable to play fetch indoors – unless you have particularly hardy furniture – throwing a ball between two people will protect your belongings while providing a fun game for your dog.
Gently throw a ball between you and other members of your household, making sure that your pup is nearby to make them jealous enough to join in. As long as you let your dog “win” the ball a few times to keep their spirits up, they should enjoy chasing the ball between two or more people for hours. Just watch out for any sharp corners they might catch themselves on and be wary of where a badly-caught ball might rebound too.
If you don't want to put your furniture in danger by playing fetch indoors, tug-of-war is a fun game to tire out your pup and can be played in even the smallest of homes.
Grab a toy, a rope, or even an old sock and get your dog to wrestle you to work their energy out.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, why not set up a mega assault course for your pup? Old cardboard boxes can provide obstacles to jump over, while a clean Pringles can could be a tempting spot to hide a treat, and a clothes-drying rack covered in sheets could be a fun game to crawl through... just make sure your most fragile objects are safely out of the way!
Utilise your Space
Make sure to utilise your space to its full potential for dog exercise. If you have a long garden, why not try to chase them down like Usain Bolt? Lots of cupboards? Try hiding treats inside and see if your dog is clever enough to sniff where they might be (watching for paws getting trapped if you have self-closing doors!).
There are plenty of creative ways to play using any space you have that will ensure your pet gets enough physical and mental exercise.
Finally, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after any contact with your pet, its food and its bedding if you have symptoms of Covid-19. Government guidelines state that you should not share food with your pet, and that you should avoid cuddling and kissing them if you are self-isolating, to help protect them from germs.
The Government advises that “it is rare for an animal to contract coronavirus, and they may show only mild clinical signs, and recover within a few days.”
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