Sunday 31 May, 2020

Really cool ways to give your dog some exercise while under curfew

Photographer Helen Jones took this amazing shot of a Cayman canine having some fun on Spotts beach

Photographer Helen Jones took this amazing shot of a Cayman canine having some fun on Spotts beach

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is a threat to dogs. That said, dog owners face the added responsibility of maintaining their dogs’ health, safety and their physical and mental stimulation while adhering to the rules around social distancing and curfews. 

During soft curfew:

Take your dog(s) for their usual walks in the neighbourhood and try to get them to the beach at least once a week for added stimulation. Owners should wash their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before and after each walk. Consider carrying around a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer during your walks. Practice social distancing measures by walking your dog in uncrowded areas. Given all of the added stresses that you are dealing with at this time, which are very likely to be affecting your dog, it's a good idea to focus on some added stimulation during soft curfew hours. Take out a ball or a frisbee if you can.

During hard curfew:

During hard curfew hours, it's important to get as creative as possible. Given that your dog can't go too far past the limits of your home just to use the bathroom, hard curfew days should be focused more on mental stimulation. Here are a few games you can play with your dog at home:

  • The cup game

The cup game is a simple problem-solving game for dogs. To play this game, let your dog watch as you place a treat under one of three cups. You then shuffle the cups around and encourage them to ‘find the treat.’ Praise them when they find the treat.

  • Retrieve

Dogs love having a job to do, even if it’s something as simple as fetching you your slippers. You can make them feel even more useful by teaching them the names of some items you wouldn’t mind having retrieved.

  • Find it

Show your dog that you have a piece of food/treat in your hand and say ‘find it!’ and then throw the piece of food/treat across the floor. When your dog finds the piece of food, say a clear ‘yes!’ as an assurance of success.

  • The cupcake puzzle or box puzzle

These two puzzles require props. Either boxes with easily removable covers or a cupcake tray and some tennis balls. For the cupcake puzzle, take an empty cupcake baking tray and a few tennis balls. Place treats or kibble into some but not all of the baking tray’s cups, and cover all of the cups with the tennis balls. See how long it takes for your dog to move the right balls to find the hidden treats and shuffle around each time. The same principle would apply with a few boxes.

  • Hide and seek

This game is best played when there are two people. While one person goes to hide, the other will keep the dog distracted. When the other person is hidden, the person with the dog will say ‘find’ and then say the person’s name. When your dog finds you, be sure to make a big fuss over them.

  • Tug of war

This is a great indoor fitness activity and can be played with an old shirt. 

  • Teach your dog the names of their toys

Start by playing with one specific toy and giving it a name while you do. After some practice and praise your dog will assign that verbal name with the chosen toy. Once your dog has learned that specific toys name you can test their skills by seeing if they can pick it out among their other toys.

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