We have to work together to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable in our communities, it is vital that we curb the spread of this virus as much as we possibly can. For dog owners who are self-isolating, this presents an extra set of problems especially if you are struggling to get someone to walk your pooch for you.
You can, of course still walk your dog so long as you are not quarantined and this is the ideal opportunity for you to have your daily exercise as well. It keeps you and your dog active. If you do have to go into quarantine then there is some good advice I think every responsible dog owner should consider.
Ensure you have enough dog food, treats, poo bags, any medicines your dog needs to see them through a quarantine period. You can exercise your dog in your garden or around your home, I know it’s not the same as the lovely long park walks you may usually take but a couple of weeks will not affect the dog too much. You can soon catch up as soon as you are able to leave the house. The other option is to use the services of a dog walker. I am still dog walking for my clients although some don’t currently need my services as they are at home anyway and able to walk themselves. My work at the moment is mainly from families that are still working and their dog is home all day and from people that are in quarantine. I have gained a few new clients due to longer shifts with NHS workers who are working longer hours and double shifts.
I have had to adopt new methods of working just like everyone else; I feel that this will continue for the foreseeable future as well. My rules that I follow stringently are when going to a property to pick up a dog I always wear new gloves and mask. If my client is in, I do not enter the house; they get their dog ready and send him out to me so I can then walk the dog. If I have to enter a property where the client is not at home, again I glove and mask up and use my own leads on the dog so I touch nothing! Meet and greets are done outside and at a safe distance. Going in to feed cats, rabbits, fish, reptiles etc again, mask and gloves and all the food, bags and any equipment is left ready for me so, again I touch nothing. Yes, it not easy, always having to think not to touch and to always cleanse but it’s worth it by far. I can still give a good service that is safe and keeping my clients safe as well. Here are a few ideas that could work for you to keep both you and your dog entertained and stimulated during lock down.
Keep a routine
Try to ensure that both you and your dog have a regular routine. If possible, make sure that they get up and go to bed at roughly the same time each day and that they have regular times for feeding and playing. This will help them know what to expect from their day. Try to encourage your dog to have some regular time and quiet periods when they are left by themselves. This will prepare them for when you go back to work and leave them for short periods.
Use a food puzzle to make meal times more stimulating for your dog, these include bases to put food on, making it more difficult to get to the food, or toys to hide food into. If you do not have one you could order one online or ask a friend or neighbour to pick one up for you. Scent work can be a great way to keep dogs busy for ages. Try hiding treats around the garden or house and send them off in search of them.
Play with your dog
Most dogs love playing, so a good game of indoor fetch or tug of war can keep them entertained. If you are playing with your dog inside the house try to ensure that they play on non-slip surfaces to avoid injury. Make sure your dog isn’t overdoing it and give them regular breaks and access to fresh water at all times. Use toys and dental chews to keep your dog stimulated and stop them chewing on things. If you have a number of toys why not try a toy rotation and put one away one day and bringing out another. This may stop them getting bored as quickly and will keep their toys new and exciting.
Think outside the box
Try creating an obstacle course inside your house or in your garden using toys, cushions, blankets, towels or anything you can think of. Get them to jump over a scrunched up blankets, or weave through towers of cushions. Use your imagination and take the time to teach your dog how to run the course. Dog’s love to chase bubbles, so if you have any in the house get them out and see what your dog thinks of them.
Teach them a new trick Learning a new trick or command is great mental stimulation for a dog. Get out the treats and try to teach sit, lie, role. YouTube is full of advice and videos on how to train your dog. Let them go outside If you have a garden then play outside with them to give them more things to investigate and smell to help keep them stimulated. Give them things to watch and listen to keep the curtains or blinds open so that your dog can see what’s going on in the outside world. Put a cushion or a chair by the window to let them see outside. Look for dog friendly podcasts for them to listen to, or TV for dogs on YouTube to provide them with other types of interest and stimulation.