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April is Active Dog Month, a time when we normally get out and get active with our dogs! However, with many families being advised to practice social distancing due to Coronavirus, this is an unprecedented, stressful time.
Dogs tend to pick up on anxiousness and may be acting out as a result of the schedule changes and overall tension in the house as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When your dog is stressed and acting out, it tends to make everyone feel more irritated.
Keep in mind, a tired dog is a happy dog.
Bored dogs tend to look for trouble, whether it’s eating your favorite shoes or digging in the yard.
On the plus side, so many dogs are getting tons of quality time with the family now that everyone’s cooped up at home!
Now, how do you tire out a dog when everyone is being told to self-quarantine?
Here are some easy ways to keep your dog busy and happy while being safe at home during this pandemic.
Keep Your Dog Busy Inside with Puzzles
Dog toy puzzles are a great way to work your dog’s brain while providing beneficial mental stimulation. They’re our favorite form of dog enrichment toys!
Mental stimulation is fantastic for preventing bored dogs, so dog puzzles are perfect activities for rainy days. Start out with one appropriate for your dog’s skill level and interests.
Eventually you can move up to more complicated puzzles as long as your pup enjoys them and stays interested.
Roxy is not a huge fan of having to use her brain, but Rico absolutely LOVES them!
This Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone was the very first dog puzzle we started with and it’s still loved and in great shape!
Take Your Dog on Long Walks
A meandering, lengthy walk is good for both us humans and our dogs.
The vitamin D boost from the sun goes a long way to helping both our moods and our bodies.
When you add the fresh air and physical activity, it’ll help you stay healthy and kick that cabin fever to the curb.
For even more adventure, hop in the car and go for a drive to your favorite dog-friendly trail to soak in the nature and let your dog sniff allll the enticing smells!
Play in the Yard
Playing games with your dog in the yard is a great way to burn off that energy!
You can work to teach them new skills by setting up an agility course.
Or, for a quick game, bring out the frisbee so they can chase it!
If it’s still wintery where you are, don’t let the weather hold you back. Bundle up and head out!
It’s currently around 20 degrees here in Alaska and the roads are pretty icy.
While we can’t do super-long walkies, we make sure to at least get out into our backyard and play games and chase a few times a day.
Learn Nose Work
Nose work is an awesome activity that can be done either indoors or outdoors when the weather is nice.
You’ll want to gather some very smelly treats to get started, such as bacon, pieces of lunch meat, or small chunks of cheese.
A snuffle mat like this one is great for getting your dog into using their nose for food! It satisfies their innate need to forage for their food while being machine-washable to satisfy our need to keep the house clean!
The snuffle mat is an especially good idea for senior dogs to keep their minds more active when their physical activity has slowed a bit.
Teach Your Dog New Tricks
Boost your dog’s skill level by teaching them fun new tricks!
If you keep it fun and stress-free, it makes a great bonding experience for you and your dog.
Plus, it gives you all kinds of cute tricks to show off to your friends once this is over!
Kikopup’s YouTube channel is a great resource for learning all kinds of fun tricks!
Let Your Kids Help Entertain Your Dog
If you have a nice yard and spring weather is starting to show, let your dog run and play with the kids in the yard for as long as they can!
This will help tire out both your kids and your dog, letting you catch some quality time to soak up the sunshine while they play.
You can even make yourself a relaxing cup of tea to fully maximize the break, or catch up on work if you’re working remotely!
Play Hide and Seek With Your Dog
Playing hide and seek can be great fun for you and your dog! You can play by hiding treats in random areas of the house and letting them go find them.
Keep it limited to a couple areas at first until your dog gets the hang of it.
You don’t want to forget a spot and find crumbly, gross dog treats hidden away the next time you clean.
You could also play hide and seek by having your dog stay in one room while you hide in another.
Call out to them and let them find you. It’s fun to see how excited they get when they discover where you are!
Set Up an Outdoor Dog Puzzle Play Area
Why not bring them outside to enjoy the fresh air while figuring out their puzzles?
Fill up their favorite puzzle with treats or dry food and set it in an area with limited distractions. Then hang out with them and watch their brains work it out!
Feed Your Dog’s Meals in A Kong
Having your dogs work for their food can help drain their energy and keep them calm on stormy afternoons.
Stuff a Kong with some of their favorite treats and give them something to work at.
You can even freeze it after filling it to stretch out their treat time! Some great fillers are peanut butter, cheese, ground meat, and canned pumpkin.
Treat Your Dog To Homemade Dog Food
I don’t know about your pack, but for mine, love = food! Roxy is our super food-motivated girl and loves pretty much anything we give her.
Rico, on the other hand, is the pickiest street puppy ever.
That’s why I love making them homemade dog food so I know they are getting the best quality meals.
Plus, it’s super easy to make dog food in an Instant Pot!
I know ingredients may be a little tough to come by at the grocery store now. If you can get your hands on a bag of rice, some sweet potatoes, and a couple bags of frozen vegetables, you can make a yummy meal for your dog easily!
Get the Zoomies Out
Dogs still need physical activity even when you’re not able to leave the house.
Roxy & Rico’s absolute favorite thing to do is chase a laser pointer up and down the hallway. They’ll run and chase it all day if we let them!
Pro tip: try to use a long hallway, and make sure you clear any breakables away first!
Just..don’t leave the laser pointer out where they can try to use it themselves…trust me, Roxy tried her best to get it to work by chewing on it!
Take A Cozy Nap
Hey, a nap is an activity, right?! After a good play session, there’s nothing better than cozying up for a nice nap with your dog.
Gotta make the most of the unexpected downtime at home!
My favorite is to open the blinds and let the sun stream onto the bed, then curl up with the pups in the sunbeam. So comfy and relaxing!