Although we work from home, there are those days when we are so strapped for time that our furry best friends lay listlessly in the hope of playtime. Our unforgiving business, especially when home turns into an office, has driven our pets to extreme boredom. Above all, a lockdown means no exciting daily walks or happy memories at the park or beach, right?
Well, what if your dog could work his brain while you are working yours? Although we cannot play with them during work hours, we can keep their minds occupied for most of the day. Since the pandemic, a lot of pets find themselves at home with their owners without any exercise - as a result, boredom-related stress and aggression may force them to channel all that built-up unused energy onto furniture, other animals, people, and even themselves! The frustration that we feel from being locked inside our homes is the same in dogs; it is displayed through excessive chewing, howling, yowling, scratching, excessive barking, pacing, panting, toileting in the house and so on. As humans, we find ways to keep ourselves occupied in the pandemic through work, on-screen entertainment, video calls, and house chores; maybe our pets would benefit from staying engaged while staying at home during the pandemic.
Here are five ways you can keep your pet occupied at home. You can choose to do these activities on a rotational basis or plan two for each day.
They say that there is no best friend for your pet like a toy, especially when the toy keeps his or her mind stimulated for quite some time. Interactive puzzle toys are an absolute go-to for any pet parent whose pets crave some mental stimulation. They keep pets entertained for more than an hour or more, depending on the complexity of the toy. A pet who has never been introduced to a puzzle toy usually starts off with a lightly stuffed Kong and works his way up to a heavily stuffed Kong and then onto other challenging puzzle toys. For dogs who aren't motivated easily or prey-driven (motivated by food), treat-dispensing puzzle toys act as a great way to get their minds thinking. You can also choose to give your pet different types of puzzle toys on a rotational basis to keep their motivation high and prevent it from becoming 'too easy' for them. Besides, using toys on a rotational basis retains the toy's value in the pet's eyes.
If you live in an apartment ecosystem, finding playmates for your pet may not be hard. You can choose to host a few playmates over at your house when you aren't working. However, the key to playdates is finding suitable playmates and no better than to allow your pet to do that! Playdates relieve pets of their endless boredom, especially when everyone around the house is working. When there isn't a lockdown, you can take your pet and her playmates on trips to the park, beach, and hiking trails. If your dog is skittish and prefers the company of people to animals, you can choose to skip playdates altogether and pick other ways to keep your pet physically and mentally healthy.
Chew Toys The one thing many pet parents dread from their pet sitting bored at home is uncontrollable chewing! Chewing is a way for pets to release all the pent-up energy that comes from not being able to walk or play outside because of the pandemic. If boredom and chewing are two peas in a pod, how about letting your pet chew on toys instead of shoes or furniture? Chew toys make for great mental stimulants during a pandemic because they keep pets occupied for hours on end. Remember to buy a set of chew toys so that your pet doesn't get bored of it over time.
Balls and Discs
In need of a little physical exercise? Who says balls are only for the park? Playing fetch must never stop - and most definitely not for a pandemic. If you have a yard or an apartment, playing fetch with balls or discs is a great way to exercise your pet.
For all the unused energy - just scratch! Scratchers are helpful when it comes to not knowing what else to do after being locked inside a home for days.
If you can't climb outside, bring the tree inside! Climbing is an excellent way to get your pet to be physically active inside the home. They build muscle tone and improve agility, besides being great fun.
It's fun, no matter how old you are! Whether you live in an apartment or in a house, treasure hunts exercise your pet and get her to use all her senses. If your pet is new to treasure hunting, you can start with a small room - a bathroom, a kitchen, a storeroom, a balcony, etc. To begin with, place treats where they are visible; once your pet gets a hang of the game, you can hide the treats for her to sniff. Over time, you can hide treats around the house and ask your pet to scan the entire area for them. Place the treats in accessible places, but make it challenging - between furniture, in the pages of a book, under the carpet, in a flowerpot, etc. Remember to not place them near electronic gadgets, cable wires, the edge of the balcony, or any other hazardous place. The purpose of treasure hunting is to encourage and motivate your dog to use their senses, which otherwise usually sit idle. You can also introduce a timer to drive your pet to find all the treats within a set time.
If you live in an apartment ecosystem, building an agility course may sound alarming. But it isn't. You can use collapsible tunnels, ramps, slalom poles, and slides to build the base of your course. Then, use furniture like chairs and tables to create a series of obstacles for your pet to pass through.
A house with stairs or a house with a backyard can involve agility courses with tunnels, ropes, slides, ramps, cones, slalom poles, and vaults.
To train your pet to use an agility course, start with only one piece of equipment and guide them on how to navigate through it. After your dog has a fair idea of how each obstacle works, set up the agility course. Always remember to reward your pet with a treat or toy at the end!