Having to stay inside for weeks on end is no fun for anyone, and trust us when we say it’s likely that the UK’s coronavirus lockdown could be just as irritating and frustrating for your dog as it is for you!
Due to your self-isolation, it’s only natural that canines are going to miss out on a lot of the usual stimuli and entertainment they’re used to on trips outside and more importantly, they’re also going to get a lot less exercise.
This means that sitting around all day waiting for the virus to end is counterproductive to your dog’s physical and mental well-being, and so to keep them in ship shape, you need to find new activities for them to do!
When dogs get bored, they tend to look for entertainment where it’s not wanted, chewing up furniture and behaving irritably and so they need mentally stimulating activities to keep them occupied.
So to help keep your pup healthy and happy, we’ve put together this list of the best lockdown-approved activities for owners and their mutts, helping to keep you both safe and sound in these troubled times.
Because bonding with your dog is surely the best way to chase away your coronavirus blues!
Things To Do With Your Dog In Self-Isolation
Take Them For a Walk!
Under the new government restrictions put in place on the 23rd of March, you are still permitted one form of exercise per day, such as walking, running or cycling.
To avoid your dog getting cooked up in the house and becoming physically unfit, make sure at least one member of your household is using their daily exercise as an opportunity to walk your pup!
For more info on the do’s and don’ts of dog walking on lockdown, see our guide here.
Garden Sports (Walking Alternative)
If you are unable to take your dog for a walk e.g. you’ve already used up your one permitted daily form of exercise – Don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways of keeping them fit and active!
If you have a garden, there’s no better time to utilise it, as it gets both you and your dog out of the house without potentially increasing the spread of coronavirus.
By playing things like football, rugby, frisbee and other sports in your backyard, you and your pup both benefit from a bit of physical exercise, while a bit of fresh air will also get your endorphins going
Ah fetch, the most classic of all dog games. Perfect during a nice stroll in the park.
But as far as we’re aware, there’s no law that says you can’t play it inside too!
Spaces like hallways provide just as long a stretch of space for your puppy pal to sprint up and down in, and as long as you’re careful and your dog is up to it, stairs can prove a real gut-buster too!
Naturally, you have to take a bit more care when you’re inside though, so make sure any throwing item you use is soft and won’t damage anything, and that you remove any obstacles or fragile objects well out the way before playing.
Carpeted and grippy surfaces work best, preventing your doggy slipping and sliding around when trying to run!
Tug Of War
With just a little bit of open space and a lengthy toy or piece of rope, tug of war is a quick and easy bonding activity for any shut-in owner and pup.
If you really get into the competitive spirit, it’s also surprising how good for both you and your dog this can be, honing balance and muscular strength.
Make sure you remove any potentially fragile items well out the way of your ‘arena’ before you start and then tug away – and before you know it, it won’t just be your dog who’s panting for breath!
Treat Treasure Hunt
Also known as the ‘Search & Sniff’ game in some quarters, a good old fashioned treasure hunt is a great way for your pup to utilize some of their natural instincts while cooked up indoors.
To play, gather yourself up some sumptuously smelling doggy treats and begin hiding them in secret areas around the house. Although try not to be too insane, as your dog is unlikely going to be able to decipher how to get into the attic!
Behind doors and in the corner of rooms is devious enough, and it can also be fun to hide them under items like boxes and paper cups for your dog to solve.
Once you’re all set, release the hounds!
You may need to guide your hungry hound and help him out at times, but this only gets you more involved, making it an engaging activity for the both of you!
Does your dog misbehave at home and desperately need to learn some valuable lessons?
Well then there’s no better time to train your dog than right now!
Work on basic commands such as sit, lie down and stay as well as some distance commands, giving your dog some order and structure to their life, which you can then use in the outside world once lockdown is over.
This helps them be more obedient to you and helps you quickly control them in overexcited or even dangerous social situations where you need them to focus and pay attention to you.
Even if your dog is well versed in most cues and commands, it can still be fun to go over old drills with your pooch, and it will be a good test of how well trained they really are!
New Toys & Puzzles
If you’re working from home, you might find you need a compelling distraction for your dog rather than an immersive activity for the both of you.
If that’s the case, then interactive puzzle toys and food gadgets can be a great way to slow a pooch in their tracks and keep them honed in on a task for several hours.
Food gizmos and toys which offer hidden treats as a reward for solving their puzzles are fantastic for sharpening a mutt’s mind, and require skill and tenaciousness to get access to the goodies.
Simpler products like Kong toys can even be stuffed with soft food as well as standard kibble, and so your dog will need to lick, chew and wrestle their toy around to get to the good stuff.
There are also plenty of non food-based puzzle toys if you don’t want your chunky tyke snacking in between meals – but is there any better incentive to play than the promise of a tasty dog treat reward?
We certainly don’t think so!
Bake Them Some Goodies
If you’re something of a star baker and enjoy whipping up cakes and biscuits for family and friends, isn’t it only fair your prized pooch gets himself a dog-friendly batch every now and then?
Granted, your dog isn’t actually going to do much baking in this activity, but they will do they’re fair share of eating at the end of it!
Homemade canine cookies ensure you know all the ingredients going into your pup’s biscuits, and that you can also exercise a bit more portion control!
You’ll find plenty of recipes online and if you’re feeling adventurous, you might even spot some dog-friendly cake recipes too!
It’s the easiest way to impress a pup on lockdown, as well as a way to build up a great supply of training rewards!
Dog’s are often desperately overdue for a good grooming session, and so make sure to get out your combs and brushes while in self-isolation and give their fur a good seeing too!
They will often really enjoy having their fur combed, and so not only do you get to remove their tatted, excess hair, but you’ll likely also send them into a soothing, tranquil state too!
Whether you’re settling down for bed, or on your way to work, podcasts seem to now be one of the accepted and go to relaxation methods along with curling up with a book, watching TV and listening to the radio.
But why should it just be us humans who get to revel in the podcast revolution?
Streaming favourite Spotify have now released the first ever podcast for dogs, suitably named ‘My Dog’s Favourite Podcast’, providing pups with an immersive audio experience of their very own!
Featuring calming, gentle voiceover praise, ambient noises and music designed to drown out stressful noises of the outside world, it’s a fantastic tool for soothing anxious hounds.
And who knows, after just a few listens, they might upgrade to Radio 4!
A favourite of amateur magicians and dad’s who misspent their youth, we should all be familiar with the famous three cup trick.
An item is clearly placed under one of three upside down cups, and then with sleight of hand, the cups are rearranged at speed and lined up in a random order.
Can you pick which cup is hiding the item?
While you and your kids likely lost interest in this kind of thing by the age of 6, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that this game is opposingly beloved by dogs of all ages.
So grab yourself three cups, a dog treat and a pooch to start weaving your magic!
Far from a cheap gimmick, it helps mentally stimulate canines and works on their problem solving skills!
Keeping your dog’s plushies and chew toys in a box or container not only helps keep clutter down to a minimum, it also helps teach them a handy trick or two about tidying up after themselves!
A great way to build up recognition, confidence and cognitive skills, try and name each one of your dog’s toys, nominating one’s for them to ‘pick up!’ and ‘drop’ while playing.
Eventually, they should be able to recognise which specific toy you are referring to from voice alone. Then get them to ‘drop’ their toys into the toy box one by one.
Make sure to give them plenty of praise after each successful drop off, and eventually over time they’ll come to learn putting their toys away really pleases you!
Because everyone knows manners maketh the mutt!
Hide & Seek
It’s not just little kids who get a kick out of hide and seek, as owner obsessed mutts seem to get totally thrilled by the classic party game too.
A game perfectly suited to lockdown, have your dog stay put in a room, or have a family member hold onto them while you go and find a place to hide. Then once you’ve found your hiding place, call out for your furry finder!
It’s a great activity to help improve and reinforce a dog’s natural instincts, as it requires them to rely on both their hearing and sense of smell to sniff out your whereabouts.
And if your home is currently choc-full of bored, uninspired children, it’s also a nice way for your kids to bond with their pup!
Have a Spa Day
Just like us humans, pups love a good pampering, and so why not treat them to their very own spa day to relax them on lockdown!
Give your good boy a nice bath, trim their nails, clean their ears and tend to their fur until your prized pooch is a gleaming vision of beauty and then help them relax after a long hard day of maintenance with a soothing massage.
Start by gently kneading and rubbing your dog’s back, before moving on to their head and joints, being careful not to force anything if your dog seems to not be enjoying it.
If they seem to respond well, it’s an activity which can help alleviate both yours and their stress, and is also really beneficial for older dogs suffering with arthritis.
Just don’t expect them to be able to return the favour!
Host An Amateur Crufts Competition
If you’ve always dreamed of your doggy winning a coveted rosette from the world’s greatest dog show, why not make that dream a reality by hosting your very own Crufts competition at home!
A fun idea for those that own more than one mischievous mutt, try creating obstacle courses around your house using cardboard boxes, towels or any other close to hand props you can transform into a physical challenge.
Then use toys and treats as incentives for completing the course, and let the games begin!
You could even give your dog a good grooming session to prepare for a Best in Show round!
Whether you’ve started yet or not, there’s no denying that this lockdown is the best opportunity you’ll ever have to get your house in order and tick off all your chores before the weekend.
But if the idea is still filling you with dread and you’re struggling to do nothing but lie in bed, why not enlist the help of your very own hairy cleaning fairy?
No, not Kim Woodburn… your dog!
Because while admittedly your trusty slobberer might not be able to contribute to every household task, they will more than make up for that with enthusiasm and effort.
Teach them the name of some items which get left here, there and everywhere, such as slippers, and train your canine to retrieve them on command to help clear things up. They can also make handy helpers if you need them to hold onto something for you while you attend to multiple tasks.
Most importantly though, they make tidying up a little more fun and a little less stressful for you!
Make Them A Doggy Dinner
If there’s one thing your dog probably loves more than you – it’s food.
And now that you have a little more time on your hands, there’s no reason why you can’t whip them up something slightly more special to chow down on come dinnertime.
Rather than reach for a smelly tin or a bag of kibble, why not consider creating a mutt meal using only fresh ingredients, combining dog-friendly foods into one scrumptious recipe.
Putting together a nutritious meal for your canine is actually a lot easier than you think, as a pup simply requires only a few natural ingredients, and they don’t particularly care about presentation!
Use a lean protein like chicken or turkey, then ground it up with a mix of fresh vegetables such as spinach, courgette, peas and carrots. Once slowly cooked in a pan with some olive oil, the results are far better than anything you’d find in a packet.
It’s the perfect way to wine and dine your dog!
Minus the wine of course!
Old Dog, New Tricks
When was the last time you taught your clever canine a new trick?
Our guess is that it was a long time ago!
But despite the famous saying, a pup can still gain different skills at any age, and while in lockdown, it’s surely an opportune time to help train your dog up to be the smartest most intuitive lassie in the land!
The possibilities of what they could learn are essentially endless, but if you’re a bit done with ‘sit’ and ‘roll over’, here’s a few we think might be fun:
- Play Dead
- Stand on Hind Legs
- Bark on Command
- Weave Through Legs
- Jump Through a Hoop
- Paws (Shaking Hands/ High Five)
Mutts Movie Night
If your pup has been known to bark at a gaggle of geese on the telly or chase a stray cat moving across your screen, why not put something on to suit their tastes a little more?
That’s correct. We are genuinely suggesting you host a movie night for your hound.
Admittedly, not all dogs respond to television, as many pups are not able to decipher it’s images in the way we do. However, plenty of canines out there do seem to get excited by certain programmes, with wildlife shows proving particularly interesting stimuli.
Doggy themed films with plenty of animal noises and sounds are likely to capture their attention in the same way and from All Dogs Go To Heaven to Air Buds to Homeward Bound, the selection of canine cinema treats are plentiful.
So what are you waiting for? Turn down the lights, rustle up some dog treats and get ready to screen a mutt-themed movie marathon!
We’d maybe give Old Yeller a pass though.