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Lockdown & Self-Isolation - Keeping your dog stimulated & exercised

Whether you’re on lockdown and only have the opportunity to exercise your dog(s) once a day, or self-isolating and not able to take your dog out, our canine friends across the UK, and sadly the globe, will also be experiencing a big change in their routine. So how can we make sure they’re kept fit both physically and mentally?

Covid-19 or not, the age and fitness of your dog will influence the degree of exercise they need and enjoy – here are some of what I think are the best ideas for keeping your dog happy, and which you will enjoy too.

1. Go for a walk or run (applicable to lockdown, not self-isolation)

If you are fit and able, use your 1 form of exercise a day to take your dog for a walk or a run.

The extent to which this is practical will of course depend on where you live – social distancing of more than 2 metres is an absolute must, so choose a time of day where you live, that means you’re likely to see fewer people out doing their exercise. If you do see anyone when you are out, don’t assume that they will give you appropriate social distance – take care and create the distance yourself.

Be aware of your surroundings – we are all so used to climbing over styles on country walks and opening gates to footpaths and parks.Don’t touch these things – use your clothed elbow or your arm. As responsible dog owners we all pick up after our dogs and use doggy poo bins too – my advice would be at the moment, unless your local doggy bins have foot pedals, take your doggy poo home with you.

Of utmost importance of course – when you get home, wash your hands thoroughly.I know that we all think we know how to wash our hands, of course we do – we’ve been doing it all our lives? I’d really recommend watching this short video though – making sure every little bit of your hands are clean (please click this link).

2. Play games in the garden

If you are lucky enough to have your own outside space, why not make a routine time each day where your dog knows its outside playtime?

  • Play fetch & retrieval games – even if your dog isn’t a natural retriever, why not use this time to teach them? Use their favourite toy, or a ball containing a treat, or smeared with something yummy

  • Play hide and seek (one member of the household hide in the garden (or the house!) whilst another holds the dog – once hidden, encourage your dog to go find!

  • Agility! Why not safely construct your own mini dog agility course – teach them to jump small jumps and weave

  • in and out of obstacles - giving plenty of reward. Here are some great ideas from Hills Pet (please click this link).

3. Play games inside your home

Like tug of war, find the treat or teach them a new command. If your dog is currently training or you think they could brush up on following your commands, why not take this time and have fun teaching your dog to sit, lie down, do a twirl? There are some great sources of info online re. teaching dogs the basics – here’s one from The Dogs Trust I thought I’d share (please click this link).

4. Make meal times fun

Your dog’s dinner doesn’t have to be their usual straightforward bowl of grub – why not try using food dispensing toys or hide portions of their dinner around the house and garden for them to seek out?

At the moment we are still able to order online, and there are some great options out there. Here are a few that caught my eye - please click the links:

I hope that the above goes a little way to helping keep your dog(s) happy during what is for many of us an unsettling time. If you have any ideas or photos on how to keep dogs happy and entertained at home, please share them – we’d love to see.

Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.

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