Make the Most of Social Distancing with Quality Time with Your Pets
There’s a new normal in town. COVID-19 has stormed in, and flipped our “normal” on its head. It has left many of us working remotely from home offices. It has left many of us homeschooling our children while schools practice social distancing for safety. And one thing is true for us all– it has resulted in a lot more time at home.
For a lot of us, that also means a lot more time with our furry friends. If you find yourself at home with your dog or cat pretty much 24/7 now, we’d like to share some ideas for making that time meaningful and productive for you and your pets too. Below are a few things you can do to enrich your time with your animals while you’re spending a lot of extra hours at home.
House Play with Your Dog or Cat
There are lots of fun things you can do at home with your pets to keep you both entertained and engaged. You can play a game of find-the-treat with your dog. To do this, take a dog treat and hide it under one of three cups. Let your pup watch as you shuffle the cups, then when you’re finished, tell your dog to “find the treat.” This helps provide your pet with some mental stimulation while also improving problem-solving skills.
You can also play classic games with your dog now that you have ample time sharing space. Play games like “fetch” to work a little bit of physical activity into the day. This is also a great way to tire them out with some hard play time, and then let them snooze while you handle work tasks remotely.
Another great way to give your pet some much-needed mental stimulation is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs are highly intelligent creatures, and they learn the meanings of words more easily than we give them credit for. Start with one specific toy, maybe a favorite, and give it a name. Start saying the name and using repetition in talking to your dog to create a mental association between the word, or the name you assign to the toy, and the toy itself. Then you can start practicing exercises in which you have your dog retrieve the toy from another room, or select it from a basket of toys. Work your way up by adding names for more and more plushes and dog toys! You’ll be surprised how much they can learn.
Practice New Tricks, Training, and Leash Training
Have you spent much time training your dog or teaching it tricks? If not, there’s no better time than now to start. If social distancing and shelter in place orders have you stuck at home, spend some one-on-one time with your pet teaching them some fun, new things. Depending on your dog’s age and abilities, you may have already mastered the basics like sit, stay, lie down, and come. Maybe you’ve even gotten to shake hands or roll over, but there is always a new trick you can work on together. It’ll be a great opportunity for bonding, and when social distancing is no longer a necessity, you and your pup can show off all the new tricks to your friends and family. Take a look at this great list of potential tricks for a little inspiration.
If you need a little support in your puppy training efforts, check out these great options: Sandy Issler with Karen Pryor Academy or Peak Performance Canine Rehabilitation and Agility. Check into their current options for virtual/online puppy training support during these times of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders.
Take a Walk
Our lives are usually so busy. We rush around from place to place, to work, to school, shuttling our kids around, and running errands. So while we deal with the new normal of sheltering in place to flatten the curve, take advantage of this calmer reality with lots of walks with your dog. It’ll be great for both of you to get out of the house, get some fresh air, feel the sun on your face (or fur), and get a little exercise. Many of us don’t get a lot of opportunities to go for regular walks, so it’s a great time to take advantage of a slower pace of life. Plus it’s a perfect stress reliever or way to deal with the stir craziness that stems from so much time stuck at the house.
No matter what the new normal looks like for you and your pets, just know that all of us at Longwood, are wishing you the very best. Stay safe and healthy out there, friends, and carve out a little time to just enjoy being a pet owner. As always, get in touch if you have a need! We’re still here for you.