Keeping your dog mentally engaged following 10 weeks of lockdown

It’s no secret that the current lockdown has caused tremendous strain on the nation’s mental health as well as that of our furry friends so it’s even more crucial, that after ten weeks of lockdown, that you keep your dog physically and mentally engaged, particularly if you are shielding or choosing to self isolate.

Taking your dog for its daily walk is a great way to forget about the current situation we are all in and that doesn’t mean you have to leave your property. Even with minimal private outdoor space, you can ensure that your dog gets it’s daily fill of exercise and play by taking them for a few laps and getting some playtime in the process- in fact we have just developed a free ‘Work Out Your Walkies’ calculator to help you figure out how many laps of your garden your dog needs.

A walk around the garden might not be quite as exciting (for you or for them!) as a trip to your local park but is the stimulation you give to them as an owner at this time that will keep them healthy and happy long after this pandemic is over.

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In addition to this, there are so many things you can do that don’t require leaving the house to ensure your best friend remains fighting fit and this goes beyond having sufficient food and the other essential items!

Try these simple tips and tricks to keep your dog mentally stimulated from the comfort of your own home:

Teach them something new

Home schooling is not reserved just for children – get your dogs involved in the action to. Dogs of all ages secretly love to learn new tricks (even if you don’t think they do!). Reinforcing the standard tricks such as “sit”, “lie down”, and “roll over” can be an easy way to keep their brains engaged if they are stuck inside. Of course, don’t forget to reward them!

Introduce new games into their routine

Taking some of their favourite toys and treats to hide around your house or flat is a great way to keep them mentally stimulated, and if they need a bit of extra help, encourage your pup to find them all with hints and tips. You can even make dinner time a little more exciting by hiding some of their food around the house or playing games such as hide and seek – an easy way to keep your dog entertained.

Try new toys to spark their interest

If you have any new toys or objects for them to play with, now is the time to introduce them. Pet shops remain open during this lockdown so if you have to pop in to buy more food or other supplies for your pooch why not treat them to a new toy for them to enjoy.

Challenge them to some games and puzzles

Dogs feel a sense of achievement and there are now so many toys and apps available to keep your dog mentally stimulated and to recognise overcoming challenges. Most of them have different degrees of difficulty so you can adjust as your dog improves. You can also make one of your own using a cardboard box/toilet roll tube with small holes in and treats inside. Make sure to only use a portion of your dog’s daily food for games in order to avoid overfeeding.

Pop on a puppy-friendly podcast or TV show

It’s no secret that your dog might react to other animals on your TV as they would when meeting other furry friends outside on their usual walk. They may even start barking or running behind the screen. This can be an easy way to keep them moving around and their brains active (and you entertained in the process).

By Nick Jones MA, dog behaviourist at Alpha Dog Behaviour

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