Given lockdown and the unavailability of toys, why not try making your own toy treat dispenser? Picture: IANS
Given lockdown and the unavailability of toys, why not try making your own toy treat dispenser? Picture: IANS

Even though we're still indoors, it's important to keep your furry friend stimulated

By Werner Roos Time of article published May 3, 2020

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As South Africans say goodbye to a fifth week of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, many still find themselves scrambling for ways to entertain themselves and their furry companions, who similar to their owners, are adjusting to their new normal.  

This has meant not going for their regular park walks.

According to Canine & Co the lockdown can be stressful for pets too, but that does not mean you should despair as there are many activities that you could adopt to stimulate your dog and ease the discomfort due to their disrupted behaviour. 

Scatter feeding

This is a super-easy way to keep your furry family busy for a longer period of time. Dogs naturally love to hunt, so making them earn their treats and food by looking for them shouldn’t be seen as punishment.  

Just make sure you don’t play this game with a ravenous dog.  Also known as ‘nose work’, this game is also a quick way to get them moving and exercised and, ready for bedtime. 

Use part of their normal daily food portion so that you don’t overfeed them and are still ensuring that they receive their daily nutrient quotient. Start the game off by dropping some of the food or snacks while they are watching you and then work at spreading it over a larger area. 

The game can also be made trickier by making them ‘sit or stay’ while you scatter the food and then letting them know when they are allowed to start looking for the food.

Nose work/ nose games

This game can be quite fun once your dog has learnt and understands the command to ‘find the treats’, and you can even keep him or her in another room while you hide his treats so that you make the scavenger hunt more exciting. To make this game extra rewarding, make sure you use some delicious and high-reward treats such as ACANA Freeze-Dried Dog Treats. 

Start off by having your dog watch as you place them around the room and then ask him or her to find the treats once you’re ready to go.

Interactive dog toys

Given lockdown and the unavailability of toys, why not try making your own toy treat dispenser?  Relieve your pet’s boredom and yours through interactive play.  

Simply place some dry dog food or treats into an empty 2-litre cold drink bottle and let your dog roll the bottle around letting the treats fall out.  Make sure you are with your pet when they are playing with any type of toy, to ensure safety.  Post lockdown, you could look at purchasing your own toy treat dispenser. 

Frozen treats

Fill up an ice tray with some delicious meaty broth and freeze these for your furry companion.  He/she will appreciate this on an especially warm day whilst playing in the garden. If you don’t have meaty broth, you can also look at freezing some of your dog’s dry food in plain water in an ice tray.

Basic obedience training

This is an activity you can practice with your dog every day! Sit, lay down, shake, stay, and come here are the basic commands to start with - we all love a well-mannered pooch (and so do your visitors!) but, training your dog to obey a new command is a great challenge for them and also provides a good workout for their brains! Remember not to spend a lengthy period of time doing this, but rather five minutes at a time. 

Werner Roos is a dog behaviourist and trainer

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