Written by Veterinary Dr Linda Simon
As strange and stressful as Coronavirus was for us and our families, it must have been that little bit more peculiar for our pooches who haven’t the foggiest why we were around all day, cramping their style and limiting their time outside. For dogs who are already naturally nervous, the recent times might be that much harder for them to handle.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things that we can try to keep our dogs entertained and content while we all adjust.
Keep dogs busy & well-exercised
As is true for people, the busier a dog is, the less time they have to dwell on their worries and the fact that any routine has been changed. A dog’s exercise requirements (and capabilities) will depend on their age and breed, so be sure not to push your dog too far. Working breeds such as Spaniels, Retrievers and Collies will be delighted with a few hours of exercise every day, while lap dogs such as Shih Tzus may simply raise their eyebrow and sit down if you suggest anything more than their usual half hour! Make the most of your walks by exploring new and different routes and allowing your dog to sniff along the way. While many owners find it frustrating to stop at every weed and tree for a good ole sniff, this is actually one of the most exciting part of the walk for dogs, so try not to deprive them.
Some breeds love to swim and will happily doggy paddle in the local lake or in a back garden paddling pool. Try not to let them consume too much of the water (avoid throwing them sticks and balls which can result in water ingestion) and be sure to dry them thoroughly after their swim. For those dogs with long and furry ears, it’s important to dry their ear canals with cotton wool to remove any moisture, otherwise, they will be prone to ear infections; not something we want to be dealing with during lockdown.
Get inventive and set up a mini agility course outside for your pooch using equipment from around the home and garden such as sticks, cardboard boxes, traffic cones and chairs. Encourage them to jump, crawl, climb and weave. Why not have all the family members take it in turn, to see who can achieve the fastest time?