As dogs and owners adjust to being cooped up during the coronavirus pandemic, there are many ways to stay active together.
Exercise is important for both their mental and physical health. Keeping dogs entertained during this time may take some creativity. Below, we’ll explain how to keep our four-footed friends mentally and physically stimulated without leaving home.
Keeping Your Dog Active During the COVID-19 Crisis: Key Takeaways
- There’s no evidence that dogs can transmit coronavirus to humans, so it’s safe to interact with them as usual.
- Introducing new games and activities will keep dogs mentally and physically stimulated.
- Treats, slow feeders, and sensory games entertain dogs.
Why Is It Important To Keep Dogs Active?
Active dogs are more likely to show good behavior since they burn off excess energy. That means fewer destroyed shoes, less scratched furniture, and not so much galloping around the house.
When dogs are physically engaged, they are also less likely to beg for attention, equaling fewer distractions for owners.
Different Ways to Entertain Dogs While Social Distancing
It’s easier than ever to keep pups occupied while you’re stuck inside together. Now’s the perfect time to encourage your dog to exercise and play.
1. Teach an Old Dog a New Trick
There’s no better time to increase your dog’s intelligence by teaching them new tricks.
Train them to learn to heel, shake hands, spin, smile, or even say “I love you.” They’ll love having a new skill to show off!
Or, consider enrolling yourself and your dog in an online training course. Our 30 Things to Teach Your Dog in 30 Days Online Dog Training Course is a great start!
2. Create a DIY Scavenger Hunt
Hide treats around your home or fenced yard while your dog waits in another room. Your canine will set his nose to the ground as he races around, hunting goodies.
3. Build a Dog Den
With humans at home, dogs may not be able to nap as usual amid the constant and unsual activity.
But you can give your four-footer a place to snooze by building a dog den! Drape blankets around chairs or pile pillows to create a cozy nook for your pup to hide away in.
4. Play Tug of War
All you need is a rope toy for this classic game. If you don’t have one, cut and braid an old t-shirt to easily make one. An old washcloth or towel will also work in a pinch.
5. Play Hide-and-Seek
This simple game is easy to play with both dogs and kids. Tell your dog to “sit” and “stay,” then go hide (or have children hide) and call your dog.
6. Play a More Complicated Game of Fetch
If you’re looking to create a more interactive game of fetch, try an elevated game of fetch and retrieve.
If you have a staircase, toss a ball up the stairs to make your dog travel up and downhill (just be careful — you never want Fido to suffer an injury, but that’s especially important right now).
If you have a hallway, first close any doors. Then throw the ball against the walls to create an unpredictable bounce and get your dog moving!
7. Teach Dogs to Jump with Agility Courses
Easily make your dog move by teaching them to navigate a series of obstacles. You can make a DIY agility course in a number of ways.
You could, for example, create a hurdle with household items, by placing a row of toilet paper (or something stackable, like boxes or cups) in the middle of a hallway or doorway.
Teach your dog to jump one row at a time. Gradually heighten the rows as dogs master jumping them. Another easy option is to lay a broom across two piles of books to create a bar to jump over.
8. Introduce Your Dog to Scent Work
Dogs of all ages explore the world through their noses. Introduce scent work by hiding a treat in a muffin pan with tennis balls covering each cup.
Looking for something more advanced? Hide multiple treats in different boxes (while your dog is in another room) and then have them sniff for their treats.
9. Hand-Feed Your Dog Small Amounts of Food
Hand-feeding your pup small handfuls of food is a fun way to bond together. This also encourages them to obey your commands.
Most dogs’ favorite time of day is dinnertime. Enhance their experience by forcing them to eat slowly. This gives owners more dog-free time while helping prevent bloat and other gastrointestinal problems.
10. Flip Over a Regular Dog Bowl
Simply flipping a dog’s bowl upside down inside another dish or bowl will create a makeshift slow feeder. Place the kibble in the ring created between the two bowls.
11. Treat-Dispensing Slow Feeders
Popular slow-feeding ball puzzle toys dispense kibble as your dog rolls, tugs, and knocks them around. Dogs love a good challenge, and these dispensers make them hunt for their food in an exciting way.
12. DIY Snuffle Mat for Snacks or Meals
Dog owners can easily make their own feeding time snuffle mat (a puzzle toy with many strands designed to mimic grass). This will force dogs to forage for their food like they would in the wild.
All dog owners need to do is spread kibble through the top of the mat.
14. DIY Food Puzzle
It’s easy to put together a DIY food puzzle toy by placing treats at the bottom of unbreakable items (like cups or boxes). Let dogs use their paws and snouts to fish food out!
Another option is to fill a hollow dog bone with peanut butter.
Keeping your dog active and fending off the boredom-blues can be challenging at the moment, but there are plenty of ways to pal around and play with your pooch — you just need to use a little creativity and keep a positive attitude.
What have you been doing to keep your doggo busy during this challenging time? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments below!
Oh, and if you’re looking for job opportunities definitely check out this list of the best gigs to take up during COVID!
Author Bio: Kaitlyn Arford is a freelance journalist, content writer, and social media coordinator, based in Louisville, Kentucky.