Locked down due to social distancing or quarantine? Look on the bright side: your dogs and cats are probably happy to have you home 24/7!

Staying at home may start to get somewhat dull however, and some cabin fever might affect your furry friend. Social meetings, puppy classes and parks are closing, so exercise can be hard to come by these days. 

Get out! Chase each other, play go fetch and have some fun if you have the space.

There’s no time like the present to work on old training classics or to teach some new moves, and with a little space outdoors, you can make the best of it. You can work on your pet’s wait and stay cues, recall, walking well on lead and heeling. Another idea, try something like jumping through hoops or try some doggy parkour!

No outdoor space? There’s plenty to try inside too. Reinforcing training and learning new tricks isn’t just for ‘obedience’, it’s also great mental stimulation and bonding experience for you both. You can start by rewarding your pet’s calm and quiet behavior, like ‘go lie down’ or ‘get on your bed’, or try some tricks like shaking a paw, bow, and sit pretty. 

While spending time training is a great way to take advantage of some extra time with your pet, there will be times when you need to give them something else to keep them occupied. Snuffle mats and puzzle toys  can be used with kibble and treats, while hollow toys can also be stuffed with wet food. I recommend ditching the bowl and using their daily allocation for training treats and working their food into puzzles and toys. These aren’t just for dogs either, there are plenty of interactive toys for cats available to hunt and play for their food. 

Loads of toys that don’t involve any food at all, both for dogs and for cats, also exist. Some are better for playing with your pet, but there are plenty of toys out there that help them break the boredom by themselves. Many pet retailers are still delivering, and if you have a Mom and Pop or small chain store, try supporting them if they are still open.

In these uncertain days, spending some time with your fur babies can not only help them cope with the change, but it can be great for your mental health too. Though you may be working from home, make sure you take occasional breaks to play with your pet and it will benefit you both. 

Enjoy yourselves and your pets, we’ll get through this together.

Best wishes and tail wags,

Dr. Sarah Dodd