With social distancing and self-imposed quarantine to fight the Covid-19 virus, the unwitting casualty shouldn’t be your pet. While cats are more self-reliant, it’s your dog that needs special care during this challenging period.
So how much exercise does your dog really require? If you have a pup, you’ll notice they get into something called “zoomies” many times a day. They are identified as madly racing around the house, and then collapsing. Since little pups are bounding with energy, they typically require more movement than adult dogs, and thus the zoomies. If you are caring for a growing puppy, factor in more rounds of exercise on a daily basis. Also, the breed of your dog determines how much movement your dog needs on a daily basis to stay sane and happy. For instance, the retriever as a breed are meant to fetch things over distances, making them suited to much more physical activity than they get in the confines of an urban home.
The pet’s health is also important. If a grown dog has a medical condition, such as heart or respiratory issues, talk with your vet about an appropriate exercise routine that will help him stay healthy without aggravating the condition.
Here are some activities you can safely undertake with your dog, regardless of age or breed, during the lock-down.
Hide-and-seek: You can train your dog to play this in-doors game by awarding them with a little treat when they find you. As mundane as the game may sound, it’s a good way to get a little activity within your home, while also training your dog to be more curious and outgoing by playing it. You can start by leaving a trail of treats leading to your hiding spot, and the more you pet plays the game, the more he will be on to the cues of what to do when you say ‘hide and seek’.
DIY Toys: Heard about Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Toys? If your pet is looking bored, nothing like a new toy to cheer it up! Improvise a plastic bottle toy, a T-shirt tug toy, or ball toy. An old T-shirt can be cut into three strategic places. Take a tennis ball, place it inside two of the pieces and take the smallest piece of cloth to tie the toy together. The remaining pieces can be cut into strips and can be further braided. You can also use your pet’s favourite toy as bait as you pull for a game of tug-of-war.
Tricks: If you have not had the time to train your dog to perform various tricks till now, this is a good time to get started. A simple trick like shaking hands is an easy way to start. You can also get your pet to perform more impressive tasks like jumping through hoops, chasing bubbles or shaking to music with a little patience. Getting your pet to be obedient to verbal commands is the first step in teaching your dog a slew of tricks that can be mastered for life. Simple instructions like sit and stay, lie-down, or roll over, can be a beginning.
Fetch. Make this activity more interesting. Shake up your dog’s fetch routine by making him or her run upstairs to get back a ball, or by tossing a ball across the room. Alternate between balls, Frisbees, and other kinds of toys to keep your dog active.
Obedience: This activity could not seem like exercise at the onset, but practicing recall, retrieving, and reinforcing basic commands offers mental stimulation, as well as exercise. You can also teach your dog fun new tricks. Things like twirling, weaving and jumping hurdles take time and patience, so what better time to teach these than now?
Treadmill: Wondering what exercise you can factor in for high-energy breeds? Look no further than a treadmill. With careful handling, your pet can develop a love for his or her treadmill workouts. While the treadmill is no replacement for a walk, or a run outside, they do build endurance and aren’t affected by the weather.
Agility: This is usually an activity best practiced outdoors. However, at this time, with a little creativity you can recreate the setting within your home. Make your own agility course with common household goods. Things like broom handles, boxes, you kids’ hula-hoops, and ottomans. With these props you can so easily make your pet practice going around them, helping increase his keenness for activity and avoiding objects. This isn’t just an exercise but a great mental activity for them that can give them the stimuli to stay sharp.
These are just some ways in which you can keep your pet actively engaged during the lockdown. Get creative and invent more ways to give your pet the exercise and mental stimulation it needs to stay happy and healthy. I reckon that not only are some of these solutions brilliant for your dog, but also you, since the creative and physical energy these activities demand are good for both human and pet to remain gainfully occupied indoors during the lock-down. Good luck!
Inputs by Pet services’ aggregator PetKonnect’s Devanshi Shah