Stuck at home bored due to the Coronavirus? Your pets are thinking… ‘woohoo! I get to spend time with my favourite humans’. There’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of Covid-19, let’s make the most of being at home with our pets. Cathy Beer, Founder of Pets4Life and certified Delta accredited dog trainer shares her pets and coronavirus boredom busters that will keep everyone happy while you’re working from home.
Pets and Coronavirus boredom busters
#1. ‘Find it’ game – This is a great way to get your kids involved and occupied. This game encourages your dog to use their innate hunting traits. By working their nose to search for hidden treats, your dog will use mental energy, which means your dog will feel more satisfied and calmer (and that’s good for everyone!). We introduce this game by making it really easy to start and gradually make it more challenging for your dog. Grab a small handful of small pieces of treats and throw them on the floor near your dog and say in a chirpy voice, ‘Fido, find it’. Assuming your dog found and ate the treats, next make the ‘Find it’ game a bit harder by throwing a handful of treats further away inside your house and in your back garden. You can build up this game to a point where you hide treats throughout the house or back garden then let your dog out to search for the hidden treats.
#2. Use your loo rolls – you can recycle your 87 loo rolls and play the ‘Find it’ game using a snuffle box. Young kids will love making the snuffle box and then hiding the treats in it. Recycle your cardboard boxes from online deliveries. Add the loo rolls, disposable glove boxes, scrunched up newspapers and cereal boxes into the cardboard box and hide the treats. More on how to make a snuffle box from Louise Newman at Let’s Go Fido.
#3. Short training sessions – no time like the present at home to practice the foundation skills you picked up at puppy school. Daily training sessions for just a few minutes is so good for your dog’s mental health and a great way to bond more with your dog. Have your training pouch and have rewards such as food treats in small pieces or a ball or tug toy ready depending on what your dog loves. It’s a good idea to mix it up with the type of rewards. Not sure how to proceed with training ‘Sit’, ‘Look’, ‘Go to bed’, ‘Come’, ‘Lie-down’, ‘Stand’, ‘Leave it’, ‘Stay’ and more? Check out our Pets4Life Dog Training services.
#4. Use your empty disposable glove boxes – recycle your disposable glove boxes and give them to your cats to play with. This simple game will keep your cat busy while you have to tend to your emails. Check out this video clip from PetNuture.
#5. Practice recall – you can practice this skill inside your house between two people and outside in your back or front garden. Of course, you are training ‘Come’ but to your dog or try this with your cat, it is a fun game with their favourite humans. Each person has a training pouch with treats or one person could replace treats with a tug toy for your dog. One person starts by saying in a happy voice, ‘Fido, come’ and as your dog runs to you, say ‘yes’ and give them a treat. Then the other person standing at the end of the hallway or large inside area says ‘Fido, come’ and so forth between the two of you. Make the exercise harder playing this game in other areas such as the front garden where there are more distractions occurring.
#6. Create a sensory garden for your pet – take a break from your laptop, take the time to get outside and make your garden more interesting for your pets. For dogs, you can include a wading pool or a special digging area (hide treats), pet-friendly plants, calming herbs, blankets smelling of cats, and containers of other sensory delights. For cats, how about creating a ‘jungle gym’ that is decorated with plants and has a balcony to curl up on in the sunshine. You can get fresh pet grass suitable for cats and small dogs delivered by Pet Greens. Make sure you avoid dangerous plants for cats and for dogs.
#7. Socialise your puppy to new sounds – can’t get out to gently expose your pup to new sounds? You can help your pup get used to scary sounds while you are stuck at home inside. Sounds Sociable is designed to help puppies adapt to their new life as a pet. It includes a collection of sounds that every puppy should be familiar with, including traffic, domestic noises, children, and fireworks. The supporting manual explains how to settle a puppy into a new home and how to deal with problems such as housetraining, play biting and settling a puppy at night. You can download this free program created by two Veterinarians from Dogs Trust UK.
#8. Online first aid course for cats and dogs – use your time at home wisely! The Australian Red Cross first aid offers a new online course for pet owners on the essential basics of first aid for cats and dogs.