Although the self-isolation period indoors can be difficult for people to adapt to, your dog is most likely extremely happy to have you at home. However, being at home all the time makes it easy to fall out of a healthy exercise routine. The shelter-in-place mandate may limit how long you can go outside with your pet. Not being able to go outside with your dog very long (if at all) means they’re most likely not getting the exercise they need for their wellbeing. And a dog that doesn’t get enough exercise can get stressed, anxious, or even start behaving badly.
Using a little creativity, improvisation, and help from technology, you and your dog can take advantage of this time together to bond, stay healthy, and keep active — from inside your home.
Schedule Regular Play Breaks Together
Set up a routine for yourself and your pet that includes breaks where you can play indoors together. It’s all too easy to get caught up in your remote work or watching Netflix for hours and forget your dog’s physical activity needs. Most dogs may even indulge you and lay around with you, which does neither of you any favors. Make sure you schedule at least two to three breaks of 20 minutes or more per day to get some physical activity in.
Dogs have an amazing sense of timing — you may find that if you play together every morning, after lunch and at sunset, your dog will remind you when it’s time to play. Knowing this, make sure you can play and exercise together daily during the times you set aside.
If you moved with your pet to a new home or apartment shortly before the coronavirus outbreak, your dog (and you) were probably just getting used to your new surroundings before you had to change your habits. More time at home together is a blessing in disguise to ease your pet’s transition into the new home — use the time wisely and create a routine you both can stick to.
Do a Daily Home Workout
There are tons of guided video workouts online you can stream, although you’ll need high-speed internet to watch them without dealing with buffering or lag. Many of the top guided workout videos are professionally produced to cover your cardio, strength, and flexibility needs. Use them in conjunction with a health app to monitor your physical activity levels.
While you do the guided workouts, find ways to engage your dog. Play fetch in between sets. Or if you have space, run or jog laps with your dog(s) back and forth. If you have smaller dogs, you can even incorporate them into your workouts. The YouTube Pup Pilates video guides you through a workout session where your small dog is part of the workout.
Engage Your Dog’s Mind, Too
Physical activity is an important energy outlet for your dog. But much like humans, dogs can get bored. Signs your dog is bored include, chewing up forbidden objects like shoes, remote controls, and anything that’s easily accessed, barking, and digging.
There are ways to challenge your dog and help him pass the time indoors with puzzles and activities. Kongs or other toys that can be stuffed with treats encourage your pet to spend hours trying to get to the treats. There are also puzzle games available where your dog must perform certain actions to release a treat. Another way to keep your dog’s brain active is by playing simple games of hide and seek. Hide treats throughout the house (or even hide yourself) and call for your dog to find you.
Make Sure Your Dog is Well-Groomed
The regular physical activity and time indoors could mean your house can smell like your dog. Since you’ll be inside almost 24/7 with your pet, make sure your dog is well-groomed to make the experience better. Regularly brush your dog to remove hair and dander. Vacuum daily and use a lint roller on your furniture to keep your house allergy-free.
And make sure to give your dog a regular bath to keep their coat clean, odor-free, and shiny. Bathing your dog is no easy task — some dogs resist getting washed. And then there’s the issue of drying them before they run away to shake off the water all over the place. To make bathing your dog a less stressful process for both of you, have all your supplies ready before you grab your dog. Supplies include the pet shampoo, plenty of towels, a brush, and a blow dryer.
Enjoy the Quality Bonding Time
There will be challenging moments during the COVID-19 stay at home orders, but the positive part is, you’ll have more time than ever to spend with your beloved pet. Think about the thousands of dogs who are in shelters at this time. If you have the space and the resources, consider fostering a shelter dog during the coronavirus crisis.