Your dog may be handling the COVID-19 lockdown better than you – especially since it means spending more quality time with his human! But he still requires exercise and play to stay healthy, so take the opportunity to do something fun together.
All dogs enjoy playing and exercising. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 lockdown, most of us don’t have access to dog parks or beaches where we can enjoy long, off-leash runs. Below are some tips on how to help your dog stay fit and happy during self-isolation.
1. Conduct a treat hunt
Easter might be over, but you can still plan a fun “egg hunt” for your pup! “Simply hide treats around your house or yard and encourage him to seek them out,” says Nina Ottosson, a designer and developer of dog activity games and toys. “He’ll love the challenge, and it’ll provide great exercise for his mind.” Help your dog understand how hunting works by hiding the first treat in an easy-to-find location, and point to it if needed. Then hide them in more difficult places as he starts to get the hang of the game!
2. Play some puzzle games
Puzzle games are a lifesaver, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown. You can order some online, or make your own using objects around the house. “A “puzzle race” is a great way to give dogs some extra activity,” says Nina. “Line up several games and hide some treats in each one. Watch him race to get them all!”
3. Offer him some ice
This simple frozen treat will satisfy his taste buds and his mind. Grab an ice cube tray and put a tasty treat in each compartment. Pour a little water over them, then stick the tray in the freezer and let it set. Offer him a cube once they’re frozen, and it’ll keep him busy for a long time.
4. Practice his agility!
While outdoor agility is a must if you have a yard, indoor agility can be just as much fun. Either way, choose a safe setting, and one that has secure fencing if playing outdoors. For indoor agility, go around chairs, up on footstools, under tables, and whatever other obstacles you can create using household items. Agility is something that the entire family can participate in, allowing for fun family bonding time.
5. Teach him some tricks
Staying at home during a lockdown provides a great opportunity to teach your dog new tricks. Not only is it fun for both of you – it’ll help shape him into a well-rounded companion! “Why not try to teach your dog to clean up his toys and put them back in the basket?” says Nina. “Some other good tricks are: waving, kissing, paw up, sleep, roll over, back up and go forward, crawl, and spin around.” You can also take this time to brush up on your positive dog training skills with clicker training to encourage good behavior.
6. Test his ambidexterity
Do you know if your dog is right- or left-pawed? Or if he prefers to use his nose or his paws? “You can find out by doing a simple test,” says Nina. “Put a plastic cup upside down, show your dog that you put treats inside, then tell him to search for the treats. He will start by sniffing, then push the cup with his nose or paw indicating his preference!” Some dogs prefer to use their nose or a certain paw, while others use all three equally.
7. Teach him toy names
Teach your dog his favorite dog toy names, and remember to reward with his favorite treat! Start off with one toy name and slowly increase his vocabulary over time.
8. Play tag
This classic game isn’t just for kids! In your fenced backyard or a large room, ask your dog to sit and wait. Slowly back away from him, and then yell “come” before turning and running away! When he catches you, offer him a tasty treat. Not only will this game improve his cardiovascular health – it’ll also sharpen his “sit” and “stay” skills!
As you can see, there are lots of ways to enjoy activity with your dogs during the COVID-19 lockdown. Not only will regular exercise help ease your dog’s stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle for the entire family, but it helps promote bonding with your furry best friend.