Advice from Oak Tree Animals’ Charity for your pet during isolation
Self-isolation can be hard on your pets as they may not be used to staying indoor for such extended periods of time.
Without their usual exercise, many dogs will need alternative ways to channel their energy, below are some ways for your dog to stay physically and mentally challenged during self-isolation. Keeping your dog occupied with fun activities will help reduce frustration and keep the peace in your household.
Enrichment/ Ditch the bowl – It’s time to ditch that bowl. Meal portions can be split up and used randomly throughout the day to give your dog plenty of fun little activities with plenty of rewards. Using enrichment can be a great way to use your dog’s brain and ensure they’re getting a reward for figuring the puzzle out. No need for fancy treats you can use their own food, start simple and the better your dog gets the harder you can make the puzzle. Examples could be: Kongs, wobble Kongs, Licki mats, scatter feeding, slow feeders, other alternatives you can make from home can be used but please ensure it is safe and do not leave any enrichment with your dog unattended.
Get them sniffing – A great way for your dog to use their brains is through the power of their nose! Using their nose provides a lot of mental stimulation and helps relax your dog using one of their natural behaviours, sniffing. Scent work can be mentally challenging without getting your dog over-excited, it even has a feel-good factor by triggering a release of endorphins for your dog.
Treasure hunts – Grab your dog’s food and get hiding. Start with small areas if your dog has never played before (once thy realise theirs rewards for finding them they’ll be more motivated to play) and build up to larger spaces, before long you’ll be utilising the whole house.
Does your dog have a snuffle mat? If yes then great you can use this as a passive calming activity for them to keep them mentally stimulated. If not don’t worry you can easily make one – head to Oak Tree’s website to find out how!
If you have space then play your usual games only inside. Fetch, tug, tag etc, all your pups’ favourite games just in a concentrated area.
Teach them some new tricks – Dogs can learn so many things, why not give it a go. Waving paws, rolling over, spinning around and so much more, check out positive trainers online to introduce your pet to some new tricks.
Bowling with boxes – Boxes are a great piece of enrichment for your dog, start with one and place some treats around the box to let your dog get us to it. As your dog gets used to boxes you can add more to it, building it up and out. The more confident dogs will be more than happy to barrel about in the boxes, so let them dive in and have fun searching for food, rummaging around and having a great time.
Listen to an audiobook – When all the excitement of games is done, try an audiobook. Studies show that audiobooks are one of the more calming auditory sounds for a dog so sit back, relax and enjoy. You could also try reading to your dog, this can be very beneficial for children, especially those just learning to read.
Build a den – Create a safe space for your dog, ensure you have some time apart and can take the time to relax from one another. Design a safe space that your dog will love, unique to them with their favourite blankets so they can have a chill out when they need to.
Keep it varied – Most importantly don’t forget to mix it up! Keep changing your dog’s daily activities so no two days are the same, this will help reduce anticipation and allow our dogs to focus on the task at hand, not that walk they should be going on but can’t.