Life in lockdown is very different for your dogs as well as yourselves. Their old routine has gone out of the window and they are adjusting to the new ‘norm’. You may be busy working at home, or entertaining your children, but do give some attention to your wonderful pets too.
With the restrictions on walking, there are many ways to entertain your dog and keep their mind busy. Using their brain (and nose) wears them out, so hide treats around the house for them to find, or be creative in how you feed their meals. Save your recycling boxes and paper, using loo roll innards to fill with food, bend over the ends and hide them, or place in a big box full of paper so they have to root around and use their powerful nose to find the source. Putting their meal in an empty egg box is another trick. Make use of the snuffle mats, Kongs and Toppls you have – freeze their meals in advance so it is harder for them to access the meal. Or scatter treats/dinner biscuits on a towel, roll it up, or loosely tie in a knot encourages problem solving. With all these, start of easy and build up the level of difficulty by burying the food deeper, offering several rolled up towels bundled together or any other (safe) creative set up you can think of. Lastly, you can just throw their dinner across your lawn – lots of fun for your dogs.
Another way to entertain your dog’s brain is to revisit your training. Start with the basic exercises of eye contact, and build up to wait/stay until released, walking nicely on a lead indoors and practice getting a swift response to your recall cue. Learning new tricks can be fun too – some ideas include a spin, a nose touch to your hand or even a rollover if they are agile dogs. Remember to mark the moves you like and pay with a tasty little treat.
For playtime, have a game of tug. Make these short so your dog doesn’t get over excited, and make sweeping movements with your arm to protect their neck. Often ask to drop the toy (by holding a treat by their nose), move into a sit and then present the toy again. This gives both of you a breather! There are some great sturdy tug toys and this link takes you to Tug-E-Nuff – use code PIPPIN to get free postage. http://bit.ly/2Rus0ML
As your dog is getting used to you being at home lots, now is the time to start preparing for the day you will be leaving to go to work. Help your dog prepare for the transition and practice ‘leaving’ and having ‘alone time’ now. Going through your leaving routine and stop your dog from following you room to room can help. Hide with a book in another room, or leave via your front door but hide around the side of your house (only if it is safe to do so). If you are not sure how your dog will cope, set up an ipad/phone recording your dog, and watch on another device (Alfred app is great for this). Make sure you return before your dog shows any signs of distress – nose licking, pacing or vocalising.
Finally, whist groomers are closed, brush your dog’s hair often. Even short coated breeds benefit to remove dead hair, and for curly/long coated dogs, it’s important to keep on top of the coat to avoid mats. At the same time, check your dog all over for ticks – this warm weather brings them out in earnest.
Pippin Pets Dog Training are still open during this time and offering video 121 sessions, as well as online courses for beginner/puppy lifeskills training and soon to be released scentwork. Top Tips and more info on our website www.pippinpetservices.co.uk or call 07733 463422.