Life is absolutely crazy right now.. Never did I think I would experience anything like what we're going through now.
COVID-19 (aka. Coronavirus) has completely changed the entire world's lives in basically no time at all. I'll say it how it is: It's shit. Everything about it is shit and I just want it to be over.
Regardless, now with new UK restrictions, we can only go out for essential shopping, essential work, ONE form of exercise and essential medical needs. Although I suspect that these restrictions will be tightened even more soon.
So, what can you do to keep your dog entertained while you're at home? Well, if you're a more knowledgeable dog owner, you should know that mental stimulation is absolutely essential for the majority of dogs, regardless of whether your dog is getting their regular walks.
Almost all dogs need some sort of mental stimulation as they're growing up ESPECIALLY high energy, intelligent breeds like: Border Collies, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers etc. so really they should be getting this in ADDITION to their regular walks.
Of course, age plays a part and dogs under 18 months should refrain from any high impact jumping or continuous running but this still doesn't mean you can't tire them out by doing activities in your own home.
Below is a list of EASY activities that you can set up for your dog to give them this much needed mental stimulation
1. Put their regular meals into a puzzle feeder/Kong/Lickimat/snuffle mat.
Putting your dog's regular meals into a puzzle toy will mean that they have to WORK for their food, which provides good mental stimulation. Just search "dog puzzle toy" in Google or Amazon and you will see a good range of puzzle toys available. It doesn't matter if your dog eats kibble or wet food (or a mix of both) either, because you can just get a puzzle toy that works with whatever food they're given. I would recommend a Kong or a Lickimat for dogs who are fed only on wet/raw food.
Some of the dog food toys I have for the girls.
2. Scatter feed their regular meals or treats.
If your dog is on dry food only, then you can literally just throw their kibble into the grass in your garden or hide them (in easy spots) in any room of your house. Heck. You could scatter feed treats in all different rooms of your house if you really wanted to! If your dog is on wet food, then you could just scatter dry treats instead. Unless your dog is FORMIDABLE at findie treats, I wouldn't recommend scattering anything that could go off. Finding a mouldy bit of cheese or meat would be gross. Scattering food or treats, again, means that your dog has to work for its food by foraging which doesn't just provide mental stimulation, but it's calming for your dog too!
Gotta find the treats!
3. TRAIN YOUR DOG!
I mean, this one should be obvious. Training your dog causes your dog to use their brain, which, if you've ever sat down and done a hard maths sum or equivalent, then it really does tire you out! There are a good range of videos online that you can watch for ideas and guidance on training your dog.
I would highly recommend these YouTube Channels:
Gundog training with Honey!
4. Stuff a Kong toy with something tasty!
Kong toys are great for providing mental stimulation to your dog without you having to do barely anything. You just prepare the Kong, give it to your dog and you're done!
To make dog Kong popsicles:
1. Make some weak gravy and then pour it into the Kong (add some treats in there too to make it even more exciting).
2. Chuck it in the freezer.
3. Once frozen, give to your dog.
You can do this with normal popsicle moulds, as long as you don't mind using them for dog enrichment!
Some Kong popsicles I began preparing earlier!
5. Walk your dog the RIGHT way
Wait, what?! There's a wrong way to walk your dog? Ehh... kinda. A lot of dog owners are EXTREMELY passive when they walk their dogs. It's no wonder why dogs then find ways to entertain themselves on their walks.. Much to the dismay of their owners.
So on your next dog walk, I challenge you to encourage your dog to ENGAGE with you. Play fetch or tug with your dog, reward them for every time they "check in" with you or just have a good run around with them. Either way, do SOMETHING with them so that they spend some of their walk paying attention to you rather than the environment.
Be safe and happy training! :)