4 tips to keep your dog happy while you’re home
If you’re lucky enough to have a furry friend at home with you right now, you know that your lovable companion just wants to spend time with you all day, every day.
Where our pets are used to only seeing us in the morning and at night, we’re now home with them 24/7. And while our schedules may have freed up a bit, we’re supposed to be staying home as much as possible. So how can we keep Fido happy while we’re stuck at home?
We want them to feel loved, but let’s face it – we also have a lot to do (including establishing new routines of our own). Here are 4 tips to help our best buds get the most out of their day while we’re home with them.
Tip 1: With limited physical exercise, mental exercise helps
Owning a dog means understanding their physical needs. In times like these where we need to stay put and social distance, giving our pets the right amount of exercise can be difficult, especially in an apartment.
In addition to physical exercise, dogs also enjoy exercising their brains. Here are some tips to help our canines get out some energy without going for a walk:
• Teach an old dog some new tricks. Dogs are naturally obedient and like to feel purpose. Try breaking out some treats and teaching your dog some basic tricks, like:
o Spins: An easy-to-teach trick that involves your dog following a treat in a circular motion. Once a full circle has been executed, it’s reward time! Then reverse the direction.
o Rolling over: This trick involves a little more patience, but we have the time! Using a treat, move your hand from your pup’s nose toward their shoulder, luring them to roll flat on their side. Once this is mastered, move on to a full-body roll-over. Practice makes perfect with this one.
o Sitting pretty: A bit of an easier trick than the previous. “Sitting pretty” can be achieved by holding a treat just barely above your dog’s nose and raising the treat slowly. Your dog will naturally follow the treat and (hopefully) raise its paws off the floor. Once they’re in the proper position, repeat the words “sit pretty” and reward with a treat.
o Weaving between legs: Standing in front of your dog with your legs shoulder width apart, bend over and reach between your legs from the back with your dominant hand. Encourage your pup to move from front to back between your legs, then around your right leg from the back to the front. Reward with a treat, of course!
• Puzzles aren’t just fun for humans. Did you know that dogs enjoy puzzles just like humans do? Puzzles can be useful for curing boredom and helping ease separation anxiety. Here are some puppy puzzle ideas:
o The box puzzle: This is the perfect use for boxes from all the packages you’re receiving! Section your canine off in another area of your home to ensure they’re not peeking. Arrange the boxes on the floor and hide treats in a few. Let your dog sniff out and find all the treats. Once they’ve found their prizes, rearrange the boxes and repeat.
o The cupcake puzzle: Using an empty cupcake tray (12 holders is ideal, but use what you have), place treats or kibble in 3-4 of the cupcake holders. Place tennis balls over all of the holders and allow your dog to remove the balls to find the treats. Once all are discovered, hide more treats in new holders and repeat.
o Puzzle feeders: There are a variety of brands on the market that offer puzzle feeders. Making your dog work for their food helps to decrease boredom as well as encourage their natural curiosity. Check out this article on helpful puppy puzzle feeders and ways to keep your pup stimulated and full!
Tip 2: Ensure you’re properly stocked
This doesn’t just include your dog’s standard kibble, there are a few other things you should have on hand for your friend while you’re home with them. Here are some ideas:
• Treats: Dogs are so loyal and cute, they always deserve treats! Make sure you have enough in your home so they always know when they’re being good. Treats are crucial in training and rewarding, and can often be paired with a toy to keep pets busy and happy. Take a look at this article to learn what treats to pair with dog toys to ensure a busy buddy.
• Toys: Would you want to play with the same toy every day? We wouldn’t either. Dogs need variety in toys and can sometimes be as picky as toddlers! Check out this article to learn what this year’s best toys are to keep your pup busy and entertained.
• Waste bags: If you use plastic bags from your grocery trips to pick up and discard pet waste, you may want to consider switching to rolls of waste bags instead. These bags are often much smaller, smell nicer and use less plastic than your standard grocery bag (and can be purchased online). This article may be helpful in your quest to finding the best poop-bag for your pup!
Tip 3: Keep as close to your normal routine as possible
Dogs find comfort in routine. In fact, changing their routine too much can cause stress and depression, which can lead to unusual behaviour.
Here are a few tips that can help keep your dog’s routine as normal as possible:
• Keep their meal times as they were. They’ve become accustomed to eating at specific times and will want to keep it that way.
o Even if your meal time has changed, continue to feed your dog as you always have to keep their routine as normal as possible.
o If you must change their meal times, do your best to introduce the new feeding time slowly. If it’s done too abruptly it can stress them out, so try changing it by 30 minute intervals until you get to your desired time.
• Your dog’s crate could be their happy place. If you have a crate-trained dog that stays in their crate while you’re at work, try letting them nap in there while you’re in a different room. This will allow them to keep their day similar to what it previously was.
• Potty breaks. The reality for an urban dog is that they need to be taken outside on their leash to relieve themselves. Going back to routine, try to take them out as you would normally (in the morning and at night). No need to take them out every hour on the hour for a bathroom break (unless you’re craving fresh air).
o A lunchtime walk can never hurt! It’ll be good for you and your dog, mentally and physically, to get out for a walk.
o Just be sure you’re social distancing while you stroll. Step aside if someone walks toward you on the sidewalk, and try not to enter an elevator if more than two people are already inside.
Tip 4: Nothing replaces your love and affection
While you’re able to purchase many different kinds of “distractions” for your dog online, at the end of the day there’s simply no replacement for your love and affection.
Here are a few tips to ensure your dog feels loved and happy:
• Pet them often and reassure them: Dogs have feelings too and it’s very easy for us to get consumed by our current world. Your dog is your number one cuddle buddy during uncertain times and needs you as much as you need him.
o Give them the same amount (if not more) affection than they’re used to.
• Play with them: It can be difficult to constantly keep our dogs entertained, especially when working from home.
o Try to cut out a designated time in your day for “play time.” This will help establish a routine and is a nice mental break for you!
• Talk to them: Your pup is the best listener, your biggest fan and of course, non-judgmental.
o Did you know that, like humans, dogs process the emotional cue of a sound in a specific part of their brain? Your dog knows when you’re happy and when you’re upset, and they’re there for you no matter what. Your voice is their favourite sound!
There are many ways to keep your pup happy during this time of uncertainty. At the end of the day, your dog is your number one fan and really just wants to spend time with you.
How are you keeping your pet busy and happy while you’re home? Let us know!