Lock down is difficult for us but it can also be overwhelming for our dogs. Their routines are likely to be different and they’re probably confused about why you’re at home all day. If you’re working from home or just wanting a bit of peace and quiet, here are some tips on how to keep your dog stimulated at home.
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How to keep your dog stimulated at home.
Different toys with different textures
Different textured toys mentally stimulate your dog. Eventually, novelty wears off and dogs become bored chewing or playing with the same thing. It’s possible to buy toys with different textures on the same toy for a long distraction. Your canine companion will also appreciate new toys every now and again.
It’s important to take into consideration what is safe for your dog. I know that Clover is determined to destroy and eat plastic toys so I stick to buying her soft toys that are well-stitched to survive her sharp little teeth. For example, some of her toys squeak, others have rope, and some have that crackly paper inside.
Mental stimulation games
Using treats or some of their food, you can play hide and seek to encourage mental stimulation. I bought Clover a couple of games to encourage her to practise using her sniffer and problem solving.
This is a level 1 activity. Clover is very keen to get treats out and doesn’t necessarily play by the rules. She hits it with her paw to knock it over which releases the treats. It’s cheating but it solves the problem of getting the food out!
This is a level 2 game according to the brand but Clover finds this easier than the level 1. The idea behind this is that the dog locates the food underneath the obstacles and uses it’s nose or paw to move the barriers out of the way.
Both games are great fun for your pet. I bought both of them back when I was writing my thesis and I needed to tire Clover out so that I could concentrate.
Teach your dog new tricks
Mentally stimulate your dog by encouraging them to work for highly valued food (for example, chicken). Most dogs will do anything for food, especially tasty food that they don’t get to eat very often. Training them to do tricks on command not only strengthens their obedience towards you, but it gets them focused on problem solving: “What do I need to do to get this food?”
Clovor is very food-orientated so she’s easy to teach. Tricks that she can perform are:
- roll over
- jump into arms
- play dead
Giving your dog different textured toys works well to distract them in the moment and keep them busy for a short length of time. If you know that you’re going to want them to leave you alone later in the day, I recommend taking the time to play with them or take them on a long walk in advance. Mental stimulation games and teaching them new tricks will tire them out with enough play time. If you’re using food to mentally stimulate your dog, remember to reduce their daily feed so that you’re not over feeding your dog.
And finally, it’s really important that you keep play-time fun. Your dog will sense if you’re frustrated or not really committed to playing with them. A happy, well-stimulated dog leads to less destruction and a calmer you, so take breaks, play often and enjoy spending time with your furry friend!