Dogs need daily exercise and the mental and physical stimulation is imperative to their health, but sometimes it just isn’t possible. A lack of exercise could lead to a frustrated dog with hyperactivity, chewing, aggressive behaviour or increased anxiety. But with working from home and social distancing now the new norm, how do we make sure our dogs get the needed exercise without their daily walk to the park?
Chad Dodd, a vet with over 20 years of experience in the animal health industry who works with YuMOVE, gives his expert advice on how to keep your dog active and stave off cabin fever whilst you’re at home together.
Create an obstacle course
If you’re stuck indoors then your home can become the perfect obstacle course for your pet and it’s pretty fun for you too! All you have to do is plan out your obstacle course then lead your dog through it. If you’re lucky enough to have space you can get your dog jumping over chairs and circling around them, looping tables or running under them. You could also create tunnels with blankets or use pillows to create a slalom! Not only will they love the exercise but the change-up and challenge will also engage them mentally. With this activity be sure that both you and your pooch have a good deal of space and there is no medical reason that would stop them from taking part in this. You should also make sure that this activity isn’t done on wooden flooring or flooring that results in your dog slipping, and the obstacles that you have created are easily surmountable. We don’t what any injuries for either of you!
Play tug of war
Get in touch with your dog’s instincts by tiring them out with a hefty game of tug of war. Establish your position as master and keep the mood light, although tug of war is great for tiring out your pooch a competitive dog could be prone to getting riled up, it is imperative to remain cool and in control, breaking up the tug of war with breaks and not rewarding aggressive behaviour. Be sure the “war” is carried out on non-slip flooring and do you best not to lift your dog up during the game.
Teach them tricks
Another great idea for exercising your dog indoors is teaching them new tricks, working out their mind and their body. You can practice the basics such as paw, sit and roll to weaving through legs, picking up toys, fetching slippers (if you like holey ones!) and spinning. So you can combine exercise with learning! Invest in a clicker to aid your training or purchase an activity toy to develop their concentration levels with an activity toy. As ever, ensure your pooch isn’t too senior and not currently experiencing joint stiffness when carrying out this activity.
Hide & treat
Have you ever played hide and seek with your pup? Dr Chad Dodd cites this as one of his favourite ways to keep a dog active indoors, “One of my favourites is a playoff of the old game hide and seek. We call it hide and treat. Hide some kibble in favourite toys around the house and let your dog slowly go and find them and bring them back for a treat."
Food is the key to all our hearts and you can use your dog’s favourite treats to physically tire them out. Try hiding treats all over your house in tricky spots to keep your dog busy sniffing out tasty treats whilst exercising. When playing this game, it’s probably a good idea to make it not too difficult because you don’t want to be stepping on lots of toys or kibbles laying around the house for the next couple of days.
Bubbles aren’t just humans! Doggy bubbles are an amazing way to get your dog moving, especially the flavoured ones made especially for dogs. Although most bubble mixes made for children are non-toxic we’re a fan of Pet Qweks IncrediBubbles. These flavoured bubbles will have your dog chasing, biting and popping bubbles until they are ready for a snooze, with even a short session working wonders for your four-legged friend.
Make food fun
Hiding treats is not the only option for food-based ideas for indoor exercise, with a variety of food toys on the market designed to keep your dog busy they’ll be tired and chilled in no time!
Dog treat puzzle dispensers are a lifesaver, keeping your dog mentally occupied whilst also getting them some movement. There is a wide range of puzzle dispensers on the market but we love the LesFit Interactive Feeder which allows you to change difficulty settings depending on the dog or how much exercise you need them to get.
Then there is the favourite of the dog parents all over the globe, Kongs. Stuffing a Kong is a great way to keep your dog physically and mentally active, we recommend using your pooches favourite stuffing and then freezing the Kong. By freezing the Kong you’ll elongate the amount of time it will keep your dog busy for and keep them moving for longer.
Consider your dog’s diet
With all the tips above, hopefully, your dog will stay nice and healthy but they are still unlikely to have the same amount of exercise as they did when you were outdoors running with them twice a day. Dr Dodd, says: “Keep in mind that your dog won’t be exerting quite as much energy, so it’s worth assessing how much you are feeding your dog and work out if you need to cut back a little bit”. Be sure to check with your local vet if you make any significant changes to your dog’s diet.
For more information on how COVID-19 affects pets and their owners, please visit the CDC, WHO, and local public health departments online resources.
For more information on YuMOVE products and how they can help your dog maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, visit our products page.