Written By: Melissa Kauffman, Catster & Dogster magazine editor
All over the world, people are staying home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Our pets seem to appreciate having us around – but the same restrictions that keep us home might also mean shorter walks and fewer trips into the outdoors. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic ways to entertain your pet even if trips to the dog park have been temporarily cancelled.
Helping dogs stay happy during lockdown
Dogs love to stick with predictable routines. The good news is that you can create new routines for your dog during the COVID-19 pandemic – and if you have kids, they’ll enjoy the opportunity to get in on the fun.
Give your dog space.
Working from home? Teaching your kids? Your dog will enjoy watching from his playpen complete with toys and something soothing to chew on, or if you’re training him or keeping him separated if you feel unwell, a comfy crate with a bed inside.
Find a new bathroom routine.
If your dog can’t take regular bathroom breaks, you’ll need to create an indoor toilet for your dog. “Holding it” too long can cause internal damage so you’ll want to make this a priority and gently teach your dog where to go to the bathroom.
Set up a designated spot for them to take care of business inside. Use an indoor dog toilet such as the Synturfmats pet potty, a dog litter box, or training pads with attractant if your dog needs to learn how to go to the bathroom indoors.
Dogs are often confused by this new routine. Offer plenty of praise when they use the designated potty and be sure to keep it sanitary by using pet-friendly cleaner.
Prevent your dog from becoming bored.
Dogs accustomed to frequent walks, regular runs, or trips to the off-leash dog park might feel anxious – and that pent-up anxiety and energy can translate into unwanted behaviors. Fun puzzle toys can help pass the time. You can also try:
If you have a little more time to spare, be sure to devote some of it to your dog. Hide favorite treats or toys and then play a search game. Set up a fun obstacle course indoors and teach your dog how to navigate through it.
You can also spend time teaching new commands and rewarding your dog as they learn. Just think – once lockdown comes to an end, your dog will know even more tricks and the two of you will be a better team than ever!
Play the system.
If you live in an area where individuals are allowed only one walk per day and you live with another adult, consider taking individual walks rather than going out together. This way, your dog will get two walks instead of just one.
Helping cats make the most of lockdown
If your cat already spends the majority of their time indoors, then you may not need to make many changes at all! Keep in mind though, pets can sense our anxiety and your kitty might really benefit from some additional interaction. And, if you’ve been thinking about ways to catify and enrich your home for your cat, there’s no time quite like the present to get that done.
Give your cat space.
Most cats love their “me” time, using the hours their families spend at work and school for catching up on some much-needed sleep. Make sure that your cat has a safe haven designed for rest and relaxation. Treat them to a special hideaway such as a cozy cat cave or window seat if they normally relax in places where you and your family are now spending the day. Even a bed tucked into an out-of-the-way corner will be appreciated.
Have fun together.
Cats love interactive play! Now is the time to play fun fishing games or get out the laser pointer for your cat to chase. Learn about catnip, get your cat a fresh supply or a few new toys, and let them go crazy!
Teach your cat tricks.
Dogs aren’t the only ones who can do tricks: You can teach your cat to do all sorts of tricks including play fetch, give you a high five, or meow on command! Just like dogs, cats respond well to positive reinforcement. Short, fun training sessions with plenty of tasty treats give you and your cat the best chance at success.
Cuddle and bond with your pet
So long as you’re feeling well, now is a great time to cuddle with your pet. Treat your dog or cat to more frequent grooming sessions, watch movies together, and make the most of the extra time you have to relax. Your pet will appreciate the extra attention, and cuddling with your pet can help relieve stress you may be experiencing.
Lockdown won’t last forever! For now, those of us with pets are grateful for the company they offer us. We’ll all be happy when restrictions ease up but with a positive mindset and a little bit of ingenuity, we can make the best of it.