Now that we can't go out as much, here are some good tips for keeping your dog healthy and occupied at home.
Russ, our Dog Warden blogger, suggests catching up on training, and playing fun games around dog-feeding times. Just be careful of those ornaments on the mantelpiece!
Read Russ' latest blog below… ⬇️
Firstly let me say that I hope that you and your loved ones are fit and well at this most difficult of times.
I’m sure we all want to thank the National Health Service staff who are on the front line caring for us during these unprecedented times.
We all have our priorities in our lives and they vary from person to person. For many the health and wellbeing of our companion animals will be high up on our list of priorities.
So particularly for those people living alone, pets will play an important if not a vital role in the coming weeks and months, especially now that so many people have been confined to their homes for so much of the day.
The health advantages to living with a pet have long been recognised. They include decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels, decreased feelings of loneliness, reduced stress and staving off depression.
It’s reassuring to know that there are still staff at veterinary practices who are working through this crisis to help our companion animals with emergency care, and I thank them for their dedication to our pets.
It’s a huge relief that we are still allowed one form of exercise a day and for many that will involve walking our dogs. For those of you who for any reason can’t exercise your dog or whose dog is used to being walked two or more times a day, there are a number of ways your dogs can be stimulated inside your own home or garden.
These could include dividing meals so that your dog is fed smaller – but more frequent – portions. Using slow feeders or kongs etc., or my favourite (if you use dry food and have a hazard free surface and environment) is to scatter their food so that they have to use their brain to find the food and, of course, it takes them longer.
Your dog’s sense of smell is roughly 40 times better than ours. So not only do they love their food, they also love to find it for themselves! I often hide treats around the house and garden and tell my dogs to ‘go find’. They might need a little guidance at first, but once they realise the game, you can make your search area larger and larger.
If you have more than one dog, please remember to only do it with one dog at a time in case both dogs reach the food at the same time and a fight breaks out.
It’s going to be a good time to do some training with your dog, but please remember to be patient. You know what you want them to do, but they will take time to understand it. Also use only positive reward-based methods, i.e. lots of praise when they get it right and a treat or their favourite toy etc.
Never stop inventing new games for your dog and watch them to see the activities they enjoy. You can then use this in your training sessions to keep learning upbeat and fun!
Wouldn’t training a ‘stay’ be so much more fun if it always ended in a great game of tuggy with your dog’s favourite toy?
Most dogs love to tug and tussle with you over a toy. It is important to let them win this game, especially when they are playing politely and not catching your fingers by accident! If you do find this happening it’s a good idea to play with a long toy or even attach a dog lead to your toy to help your dog avoid this.
A top tip is to rotate the toys your dog plays with to keep them fresh and interesting!
Take care everyone and stay safe.