Staying home can provide some new avenues to bond and play with pets.
We’re all home.
Stress is high and a version of cabin fever may have started to set in.
Our pets may be getting a little antsy too.
But just because we’re at home doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and de-stress — especially when our pets are involved. In fact, there are many activities we can do with our pets while sheltering in place.
Here are some ideas to help mix things up:
Start the day in your yard or front porch. Orange County-based Certified Professional Dog Trainer Kate Connell, who owns Calmer Canines (calmercaninestraining.com), suggests sitting on your property outdoors while you drink your morning coffee and start your day. This will give your dog the chance to relax outdoors without you having to take extra time out of your schedule. If your yard is not fenced and/or if your dog barks at passersby, keep him or her on a leash. Praise your dog and give him treats continuously before he can start barking. Bring him inside if he does bark and then try again when he is calm.
Have your dog search for toys or food. Connell also suggests placing some food or treats in small food containers (large, cleaned-out, plastic Easter eggs will also work) and hiding them around the house or yard for your dog to find. You can also hide a toy if he already knows the toy’s name.
Teach your dog a toy’s name. A simple lesson like this can also be fun and interactive. Connell says you can start by saying — “Get your ball [rope, rubber stick, etc.]” — before you toss it just a couple of feet. Practice “drop it” when he brings it back, and then repeat saying — “Get your [toy]” — each time. Over time, you can toss the toy further and eventually toss it so that it lands out of sight — for example, around a corner or behind a couch. Finally, you can work on having your dog stay while you hide the toy, return to release him from his stay and tell him: “Get your [toy]!”
Make ice-block toys. Best Friends Animal Society (bestfriends.org) suggests making some toy-treats to keep dogs entertained. These “toys” can keep dogs busy and cool for hours on warm days. Place a few rubber toys in a bowl or bucket, fill the bucket with water and freeze it. Your pet will enjoy licking through to get to his toy. You can also freeze chicken or beef broth in ice pop molds or drinking cups. Or make “pupsicles” by freezing combinations of peanut butter, bananas and/or yogurt in ice cube trays with carrot stick handles. Always supervise your dog while he enjoys his interactive treats and toys.
Make cat furniture. Of course, our cats can always benefit from enrichment activities as well. Best Friends says you don’t have to buy cat trees and furniture to entertain felines. Some cats are just as happy with cardboard boxes and paper bags. Again, make sure to supervise your pet’s playtime.
Install a bird feeder. You can also use nature to entertain your feline. Best Friends recommends placing a bird feeder outside a window where your cat can watch the birds fly in and out for food.
Read to your pet. This one works for either canine or feline, according to Best Friends. Read aloud or sing to your dog and/or cat — and have the kids join in.
— By Jessica Peralta