April 15, 2020
When phrases like “flattening the curve” and “in these unprecedented times” seem like the new normal what does this mean for us when we are self-isolating with pets?
Due to the coronavirus outbreak and stricter rules being introduced about where we can and can’t go, many places we used to frequent have now closed and that also includes the local dog park, so here are some tips on keeping our beloved pets entertained in these challenging times.
How to avoid cabin fever
While dogs need appropriate physical exercise, many people forget they need enrichment in their lives through mental and cognitive stimulation too. Monica Limanto, CEO and co-founder of Petsy, says that “lack of appropriate enrichment can lead to the development of stereotypical behaviours such as incessant barking, inappropriate chewing, hyperactivity and intense licking.”
She says that “for some people, spending an increased amount of time with their pets may lead them to realise that their pet may need some additional mental stimulation and enrichment during the day to alleviate boredom and to help keep them entertained during the day.”
There are plenty of activities to keep them occupied and assist in providing physical and mental stimulation for pets for all ages. You may find that the additional entertainment will help to alleviate behavioural issues too.
Training at home
If going outside for their usual walk isn’t an option, the time spent at home can be used to learn new skills or to brush up on existing skills and behaviours. Cues serve an important function such as sitting is good for self-control, coming when called is an important safety cue or “Wait” don’t run out the door when I open it.
You can practice new or old tricks in short segments throughout the day.
Chasing toys and playing nose-driven games like scent work or “go find” games help to engage the ‘seek and reward’ system, an important part of the emotional and behavioural wellbeing of dogs. “Go find” is a game that utilises your pet’s scent abilities and can be played almost anywhere.
You can hide these toys in the house or backyard and send your pooch to “go find” it. Make it easy for your pet at first by letting him or her see where you hide it and as they improve, hide it in places that are more difficult.
Food puzzles are a great way to stop boredom and overeating. Instead of feeding your pet from their regular bowl, you can place the food in a variety of feeding toys. This is perfect for giving your pet some physical and mental stimulation during meal times. Dog and cat food puzzles are available.
Scratching posts for cats
Cats scratch to exercise, destress, and mark their territory. If they don’t have good scratching posts, they can become stressed and exhibit negative behaviors, like urinating and scratching inappropriately
Interactive toys for cats
Choose a toy that your feline friend can chase such as a feathered bird toy on a wand that imitates prey. This will help your furry friend to cats to engage in their hunting skills.
Whichever form of entertainment you choose when self-isolating with pets, they will love spending more time you and be happier for all the extra love and affection they receive during these difficult times.