Getting enough exercise is essential for a dog’s health and wellbeing. How can we look after them while in self-isolation?
As we adapt to COVID-19, it’s important to look out for our pet’s welfare too – and that includes exercise. Should someone in your household develop symptoms, everyone in the house will be stuck indoors for a fortnight. Here are our suggestions for keeping your dog healthy and happy in that time.
Follow your routine
As much as possible, stick to your normal routine with periods of activity and regular meals.
If you have a garden, signal to your dog that it’s time to use the toilet by picking up lead, gloves and a bag as normal and taking them outside. If you’re not able to be outdoors at all, you can do the same even in the house, waiting until their normal toilet time and then leading them to a corner you’ve prepared with newspaper, urine pads or even a square of artificial turf (these can be ordered online and delivered to your door).
Keep them engaged
Dogs thrive when they’re regularly exploring new environments and smells, and meeting different animals. In lockdown most of that is off-limits, but you can still set up activities to keep them mentally stimulated and engaged with their environment.
Try introducing new dog toys, or rotating the toys you have. You could put one of their meals in a puzzle feeder or play games that involve discovery of different items – even hide and seek.
The vet charity PDSA has some great advice on how to socialise a puppy during lockdown, introducing them to new sounds, smells and surfaces in the house and garden, and rewarding them as you go. Don’t forget that with routine vet services cancelled, it’s important to keep a puppy indoors until their fully vaccinated.
Keep them active
In self-isolation, even walks are impossible. Try to bring outdoor games indoors: playing fetch with a soft ball or toy, or setting up an obstacle course with boxes and cushions in the house or garden.
If you’re well enough, you might want to use the opportunity to teach your dog new tricks. Active dogs do well learning tricks like weaving between legs, sitting up, rolling over and spinning – and they love the interaction and positive feedback. Keep an eye on the number of rewards you’re giving them so you don’t exceed their daily calorie allowance.
St Kitts Veterinary Centre: 01252 844044
Basingstoke Veterinary Centre: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799