Once the COVID-19 pandemic had brought upon lockdown in most of the countries, we all kept hearing news saying that while humans are frustrated with the situation, our pets were undoubtedly the happiest creatures on Earth. True, isn’t it? Having the entire family around all day, extra attention, love, and cuddles is their dream come true.
However, the lockdown will affect the routine of your dog as well and it is your responsibility to make the required changes to keep up with the situation. Though the dog is excited to see you at home all day, he might also be confused at the sudden change. And what’s worse is that dogs are vulnerable to separation anxiety once the quarantine is lifted and life resumes as usual. So keep your dog engaged and happy but make sure you stick to his usual routine of sleep and food which will make it easier for him to slip back to regular life.
Read on to know how you can flex your dog’s schedule in quarantine.
How to keep dogs fit at home?
Most dog parents in lockdown are facing this issue. Not everyone has access to gardens or yards so making sure their dogs get the required physical activity is proving to be a challenge. Even Google has shown that searches for ‘dog exercise’ have increased rapidly since the quarantine began.
Dogs need their daily dose of physical activity to keep fit and healthy. In case they take a break from physical activities, it might affect their endurance, causing them to put on the extra weight and increase the chances of hip dysplasia, cardiovascular diseases, or diabetes.
Thus, to maintain the good fit of your dog, you need to come up with temporary solutions that work.
Dogs, especially highly active breeds require at least two hours of physical exercise in a day. Even you might feel cramped after watching Netflix for hours together and will need a good stretch. Dogs too have this need.
If you fail to provide your dog with his physical exercise requirements, he might show signs of restlessness and even aggressiveness. To avoid this, you need to make situational changes with your dog’s exercise needs and do the best you can at home.
Some countries are allowing dog walks in areas that are considered safe or even moderate from the virus. In case you fall into such a category, you can make use of that and take your dog walking for 30 – 45 minutes at least. As it is advisable to not go out often, you can stick to dog walking within your street alone as it is safer.
You can make your dog run up and down the stairs; this will be a good alternative for the time being to make up for the missed outdoor sessions.
In case you have a treadmill at home and a large active dog, then you can make your dog run on it. However, make sure you research properly on the right settings based on the dog’s size, weight, and general physical activeness.
If this idea seems a bit crazy to you, don’t worry, most vets suggest this option.
Games that can be played at home
Even good indoor games can act as a substitute to fill the physical needs of the dog. By engaging themselves in games, they are using up a good part of their energy which will help to combat boredom as well.
While playing indoors make sure you don’t have any decorative pieces that are fragile in that area. Make sure you dog-proof a suitable portion of your house and use it as a play area.
#1 Hide and Seek
We all loved playing this game during childhood and guess what, your dog will love it too! It will be more interesting with dogs as you can watch their adorable confused faces wonder where everyone disappeared to. Of course, given their heightened sense of smell, they will sniff you out of your hiding place and jump on you with joy on finding you!
This is not only a good game that will make your dog walk around, but will make them sharp too.
#2 Tug of war
A game of tug could go on forever with your dog and is a great way to keep them occupied. They would simply refuse to back down and let you win! You can either play tug with your dog or even tie a strong rope to a suitable thing like a window. Make sure that the rope is not too harsh for your dog and at the same time durable.
Warning! Keep an eye on how strongly your dog tugs and make sure his mouth(gums) does not bleed.
The most typical dog game ever. Dogs love playing fetch and it is also a good way to keep them active. It might not be possible to play fetch by throwing a ball or frisbee inside the house; if you have a yard, then go for it. So you can roll the ball and make the dog go behind it. You can also throw the ball up the stairs and make the dog run around more.
I am sure you would have played a game of catch with three people. While two people volley the ball among themselves, the third person in the centre will try to catch the ball on the way. In this case, your dog will be the third person. You can take his favourite toy or ball and throw it to the other person. Your dog will run back and forth between you two, trying to get his toy back!
Dog training is an arduous yet rewarding task. Most dog owners do not venture beyond potty training as they might not have the time or patience. Because of this, they might find it hard to control their dog and eventually leave him in his ways.
I am sure you must have looked at a friend’s dog following every command and wished your dog would be like that too. Well, now is the time for you to train your dog!
Though training is generally carried out within the first two years of a dog’s life, since you have sufficient time, you can train dogs that are even 5 to 6 years old. Keep in mind that the secret to successfully train your dog is consistency, persistent effort, and patience (lots of patience).
#1 Behavioural Training
The basic dog training package would include teaching the basic commands like sit, stand, eat, run, yes, and no. Yes and No are very important as they are the main control words over your dog’s behaviour. In case your dog is doing something he is not supposed to, like chewing on your shoes, the No command will work well.
Similarly, use a cue word like ‘Good boy’ or ‘Good girl’ as a sign of appreciation every time they perform a correct or positive action and follow this with a treat or a cuddle. This is the basic principle of positive reinforcement which is the most effective training method for dogs.
#2 Potty training
Many people have adopted dogs as the lockdown was announced. So in case, you have a new dog at home, then you can successfully finish potty training.
Potty training requires consistency as one small accident can cause your dog to change his potty spot. So make sure you observe your dog, understand when he feels the need to eliminate and guide him to either do on the pee pads or take him outside.
#3 Teach them a few handy tricks
You must have seen adorable dog videos on the internet and marvelled at the amazing talents that they possess! Now you can make your dog one of them by upgrading his skill set. Teach him a few fun tricks and some of them might turn out to be useful to you. For example, you can train him to fetch newspapers or mail from the front door. You can teach him to pick up any toy lying on the floor and put it in its place; you can even make him pick up clothes and put them in the laundry basket! It will be like having your mini house help and what’s more, your dog will be excited that he feels important and useful.
Dogs are very smart animals and with the right training from you, they can get smarter!
- You can use puzzles for dogs or IQ balls to stimulate their minds.
- You can also make your dog use his nose to find hidden objects; make your dog smell an object, then hide it and reward him if he finds it.
- Interactive dog toys. Apart from the regular dog toys, you get interactive dog toys. These toys will not only sharpen your dog but they will keep them at the task for a long time. Interactive pet feeders, puzzles, and dog treat dispensers are good options.
Let them socialize!
You must have come across the adorable viral video of two dog buddies catching up over video call. You can do the same with your dog too!
There are apps and online platforms that allow pets to interact – meeting the social distancing standards! It is a cool and easy way for your dog to stay in touch with his buddies and have an exciting experience too!
Yes true, some dogs do watch TV! Unlike humans, dogs have a dichromatic vision and can perceive certain colours only. However, they can make out the images of humans and animals and can even recognize sounds. They begin staring at the screen once they hear the sounds and try to focus on the source.
It can be an interesting new activity for your dog and you can try it out and observe how your dog is reacting to it. You can also check if your cable provider has a special channel for dogs or download such content from the internet. These videos are specially designed for dogs with a frame rate and colour spectrum suited for them.
Give them their space and sleep
You must have noticed that dogs sleep and dream like humans a lot during the day. Why? Among many other reasons, it is because they are undisturbed during the time that all the family members are out for work or school. You must have heard the famous saying – dogs sleep with one ear open. So the best nap time for them is when the house is at peace.
Dogs need an average sleep time of 12-14 hours per day.
Now that everyone is home, the dog will be active and engaged in everything you do. And due to this, the dog will miss his required sleep. So make sure that you give your dog his space and not disturb him while he is napping.
Strengthen your bond
Most of us are stuck in a 12-hour workday with barely any time for our personal needs. Though there are pets at home, we might not have had the time to connect with them. You can rectify that by spending time with your dog and you will be surprised at the love they shower you with and regret not appreciating them enough.
People with pets at home have remarked that they influence a positive mind-set and make lockdown bearable. This is proof of earlier studies that stated – ‘pets help in maintaining mental well being’.
If you are used to taking your dog to the groomers regularly, you have to now do the job yourself. Among the grooming requirements, bathing your dog and grooming your dog especially their coat is main.
Not all dogs readily oblige for a bath and you can have a fun session trying to bathe him!
Once the quarantine is lifted, I urge you to maintain the same bond with your pets. They love you unconditionally and they deserve your attention and love. Spend time with them as much as you can. In case you have trained your dog during quarantine, make sure you repeat the processes frequently so that the dog remembers it.