How To Keep You And Your Dog Sane During The Covid-19 Restrictions
Difficult as it is to believe, here we are again, nearly a year on, with Level 5 restrictions.
Having to work from home or stay at home due to the Covid-19 restrictions has resulted in some unexpected issues to deal with.
While spending more time with your pet is obviously a bonus, it can be difficult when you are trying to meet a work deadline or video chat with a friend and your cat is insisting she sits on your computer keyboard…or your dog has become your stalker!
Our pets have been conditioned to believe that when we are at home, we are there for them.
You are of course their best friend but, in their eyes, you are also their chef, cleaner, entertainment officer and exercise buddy!
Your laptop is the enemy and they will do whatever it takes to distract your attention from it, back to them.
This is funny at the start but can become an issue when your day is constantly getting interrupted and you are falling behind in your plans or work assignments.
How To Keep Your Pet Busy So You Can Get Your Work Done At Home!
The good news is that getting your pet involved is an activity that challenges their mind will result in a happy and tired pet (who will then leave you in peace to get on with your work, whether that is housework or a work project).
“Enrichment” refers to providing activities that satisfy an animal’s natural drives and allow them to act on their instincts. This mentally challenges them and is very satisfying and tiring for them. A satisfied, tired pet makes for a happy family too.
There are many pet toys you will find in your local pet stores that were designed with enrichment in mind. In our current situation you may want to shop online, and we discuss this in our recent article about online stores.
There are also home-made versions of games you can try, using old worn out socks, storage boxes or flowerpots. If you also have children you are trying to keep entertained at home while you work, this is the time to get them involved in new fun-at-home activities with your pets.
These challenges are suitable for pets at any stage of their lives and can be adapted to best fit the stage your pet is at.
Pets, just like us, have a continuous capacity and desire to learn new things …and have fun!
You might also like to read: Concerned About Your Pets During the Coronavirus
Feeding Enrichment Ideas.
Breakfast/ Dinner can be served in a durable rubber dog toy, like K9 Connectables, or a Kong instead of their usual bowl.
Your pet’s meal takes longer to eat and is more challenging and will also be soothing on gums for puppies or older dogs.
Simply fill the Kong with their wet or *dry food, then put it in a sandwich bag and leave it in the freezer.
*If you are using dry food, soak it in water first and then use it to fill the toy.
Spread out their meal portion over the day – Great for older dogs that seems to be hungry continuously. Measure out their dinner portion for example but instead of giving it to them all at once, scatter it across the floor so they have to sniff it out and search for it, which makes it more satisfying for them.
Do this 3 or 4 times over the day to spread out the fun and satisfaction.
Banana for a once a week treat can be used – simply mash up the banana to fill the Kong and freeze. This works particularly well on warm days, as it works like a pet ice-pop and keeps them cool when you take it out of the freezer.
“Yogies” are an Irish made frozen probiotic yogurt for dogs. Specially formulated with vitamins and minerals that benefit a dog’s general wellness. My dogs love them especially as it gets warmer- a perfect distraction for them while you get your jobs done.
Carrots are another tasty healthy treat that will help with your dogs’ teeth from puppyhood to adult dogs, cleaning and strengthening as they crunch.
Dental sticks satisfy their cravings and support their dental hygiene.
For puppies they can help avoid chewing on your furniture or shoes.
If your pet has specific digestive requirements, there are veterinary recommended chew sticks and treats you can give them without having to worry about an upset tummy.
Your pet store will have advice on the most suitable type for your pet.
You might also like to read: Coronavirus: Symptoms, Prevention & Your Pets
Play / Exercise Enrichment Ideas!
Use a Treat Dispensing Ball, which satisfies your pets scent and search drive -many have adjustable openings so you can decide how challenging it needs to be for your pet.
Hide & Seek can be played using healthy treats like carrots around the house, or under empty pot plants in the garden.
Old Socks or Storage Boxes can be used for hiding either their dry food or treats or their favourite toys – layer it up to make it as easy or as difficult as you want.
Imagine the extra fun your pet will have trying to get their favourite squeaky toy out of an old sock or searching through a box full of old rags with hidden treasures of treats to find.
Paddling water (especially if you have a water dog breed). Put a small amount of water in a basin or in the bath and satisfy their water dog instincts. Throw in favourite toys for a game of fetch or just let them enjoying playing with the water. Of course supervision is very important on this one!
Agility Trials (At Home):
Either order online and pick out a starter Agility kit
Make your own one using items you have around the house and garden:
- “Weave poles” can be garden planting sticks
- The “Agility Ring” can be a hula hoop
- “Jumps” can be plant pots and garden planting sticks
- A “Rest box” can be a cushion
Lots of fun for both of you while keeping fit at home.
These are just some examples to help keep your pet happy when you may not be able to bring them out on walks, as frequently as they are used to.
They provide both physical and mental exercise and the interesting thing is mental stimulation can tire out your pet much quicker than physical.
Music For Your Pet And You To Enjoy!
Another interesting way to manage a happy “stay at home” household is music.
Animal behaviourists have discovered that music can be as soothing for your pets as it is for you.
To enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, try some calming classical music…this has even been proven to help pets suffering from separation anxiety.
Any calm, easy listening music is effective and there are specific recordings now available for dogs that you can upload for your pet.
Structure Your Day With Your Pets
Make the most of having more time at home with your pets – You can balance work and fun by keeping a structure in your day.
Plan out how the day will work best for both of you.
Frozen breakfast for your pet will mean you can start work and focus through to your mid-morning break without interruption.
Play “Hide & Seek” on your lunch break so your pet is satisfied and will happily take an afternoon nap while you work through the afternoon.
Later, after a quick garden break, soothing classical music will see your pet through until your workday or housework is finished.
Try different combinations until you discover what works best for you… and enjoy your new at home, work-life balance with your furry pal!