With Covid-19 not looking like it’ll be shaken away anytime soon and new lockdown restrictions being put in place it’s looking like exercising at home is coming back.
Do you remember how you exercised your dog in the last lockdown? We couldn’t, we’ve been too busy focusing on getting out and enjoying our adventures again. And, I guess, hoping we may not be back at the stage where lockdown would be happening again.
With regions going to into lockdown, outdoor adventures are becoming more restricted. Even your dog’s social life, which never really got back to the same stage, is like ours: almost non-existent. Thankfully we have our dogs and our dogs have us.
So, we started looking into ways that we can keep our dogs entertained at home.
How to keep your dog entertained while staying at home:Challenge your dog with an IQ game
An IQ game? What? These are games designed for mental exercise! You don’t have to get too creative with making games, just help your dog play with an IQ game.
The games have areas for you to hide treats in and your dog has to figure out how to move sections to get to the treats. They often come in different difficulty levels and styles, so once you and your dog have the hang of one you can move onto another.
To get the treats your dog may need to slide an element across, push on a lever or spin compartments around. Sometimes they try to dig at the game or even push it around, especially if they’re not used to games to get treats. That’s why they may need your help to get started.Down time
With less activity and your dog being around you more it can lead to behaviour changes, not always for the better. By being aware of this we can help attribute the right kind of exercises for the dog. Or maybe even just giving them some down time.
Down time? Yes, we all like a bit of me time and sometimes are dogs need that too.
A lot of dogs have gone from being left during the day (with a toilet break or two) to now having people around them all the time. We also have to be aware of those dogs around children as they may be getting more playtime, but it may be too much. Children have also been going through changes of being at school, or not, and having their time with friends limited. So you may not be the only one in the house wanting some dog time. It becomes very easy for the day to pass without realising your dog has just had a whole day without sleeping. This can leave to over tiredness and expose a dog to learning unwanted behaviours.
Now that’s with a dog, if you have a puppy then your puppy will get so excited that they are more prone to getting overtired as they are not great at regulating sleep. The world is such an exciting time right now, why would they want to sleep.
So we have to keep an eye on our puppies and dogs and recognise that down time is just as important as play.
Down time can be as simple as just not interacting with your dog at all or, if they are crate trained, popping them in the crate for an hour.Place food into something other than a bowl
This one is one of our favourites. Why? Because you can do this for every meal and you’ve already added mental exercise to your dogs’ day in quite a simple way.
Additionally, it may help your dog's weight. If they are on a diet they may gobble up the food too quickly that they do not feel full. By slowing down eating time it might mean your dog feels a bit more full (and it’ll help with digestion). If you are in lockdown and are unable to give your dog the exercise they need, they are likely to put on a little bit of weight. Placing food into a toy or bone where your dog has to work for the food might just be a perfect addition to your day.
Even if your dog is the perfect weight, having your dog try to work at getting their food out of a toy or bone is a great opportunity for mental exercise. If your dog is a super speedy eater, it will help them slow down and maybe digest their food a little bit easier.Hide and Seek
First off decide whether your dog finds toys or treats a better reward. Whichever one you choose go and hide it while your dog is in another room or in the garden. The more you can hide at once in different places the better. Once you’ve hidden them let the dog in and see how many they can find.
Hiding places might be under a cushion, behind a seat, wrapped up in a blanket or behind a door. If you have a wooden floor: a Tupperware box upside-down with the toy/treat under is great! It takes them a long time to flip over, as it will slide around the floor (just watch that they do not become too frustrated with this).
This is a great exercise for a little more physical work, as your dog has to move items around and search the room or house/flat.
It’s also great if you have kids at home who have some energy they need to run off. See how quickly they can hide the goodies for your dog and the creative hiding places they find.
Is there a trick or skill you wish your dog knew? Do you have a little bit of extra time now? Then it’s the perfect moment to seize the opportunity for training this.
Break down each step and put in short bursts of training each step until your dog achieves each one. Do not worry about respite between each step either, take your time with the training and enjoy each stage and how much your dog achieves. A favourite trick tends to be getting your dog to put their toys away!
Did we not just cover this before? Well, not entirely. Training tricks is great fun but doesn’t help for obedience or other training that helps your dog know what to do in everyday situations.
There are lots of books out there that might help you come up with some training ideas and tips. If you are lucky enough, your local dog trainer might be offering online training so you can get support if needed.
Otherwise concentrating training elements such as: walking around your house/garden with your dog at heel on the lead or when you open a door ensuring your dog waits until you let them through.
Is there that one thing you wish your dog was slightly better at? Now is the prime opportunity. Just remember patience and if it is not working contact a trainer. Training shouldn’t cause frustrations in you and the dog. Focus on positivity and working together.Long Lasting Chews
Long lasting chews include: yakity yaks, wood chews, antlers and bulls horns. These are great for exercising your dogs’ natural want for chewing behaviour. They tend to be firmer chews that take a long time to get through, sometimes so long that they actually need taking away.
Just ensure the chew you use is suitable for your pups’ age.
Please note that these tips are just pointers to help exercising you dog while inside. If you have any behaviour changes or anything you need a hand with do contact local dog trainers.