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Keeping Your Dog Occupied at Home During Quarantine

(Guest post written by Mike Cahill, originally published at https://www.redfin.com/blog/keeping-your-dog-occupied-during-quarantine/)

At this point, the majority of us have begun to feel the side effects of being stuck inside our homes during the quarantine. Whether it be boredom, fatigue, or just an overall lack of energy, at least we can understand what’s going on around us. Our furry four-legged friends, on the other hand, do not. This is just one reason why we need to keep our dogs engaged both physically and mentally during this global downtime. To provide our readers with engaging and inventive ways to make sure our best friends get the brain and body exercise they need, we reached out to experts in dog training and behavior from Miami to Sacramento. Continue reading to discover new ways to keep your dog occupied while stuck at home during quarantine. Who knows, you just might be entertained yourself!

Try something new

Have fun and play puppy ping pong! Everyone in the household takes their turn calling Fido and giving them a treat when they come. It is a great way to exercise your pup while working on their recall. – Newman’s Dog Training

Play hide ‘n seek with your pup, it’s a great way to keep the kids occupied as well. The kids or even an adult first go down a hallway, ‘hiding in plain sight,’ but eventually, the game becomes more challenging, all while an adult enforces a sit/stay. Also, dump the food bowl, feed your dog from food dispensing toys and food puzzles – unless your dog is geriatric or has medical issues, we know dogs actually benefit feeding in this manner. You might even hide food dispensing toys and food puzzles randomly during the day for your dog to sniff out. – Steve Dale certified animal consultant

Teach your dog to play ‘Find It’ by tossing a treat 6-10 feet away from your dog then telling your dog to ‘Find it’. Let your dog sniff out the treat but be sure to give your dog a hint if they lose interest before they find the treat. Once your dog catches on, you can hide treats in a room, tell your dog to ‘Find it!’, and let your pup get their energy out trying to sniff out some tasty treats. – Paws at Home

Ok, we’re obviously biased, but have a dance party! Movement releases stress for both you and your pup, bringing you closer together as you wiggle around. We’d shamelessly recommend iCalmDog Reggae, we produced it just for this. – iCalmPet

Now that many of us (and our pets) are more homebound than we would probably like, I can tell you that we typically do better with this than our dogs do. We understand what’s going on—they don’t, so we need to think about how we can make sure they’re getting enough exercise. The backyard, a long hallway, or even a large family room can become a makeshift dog park. Remember, they need their activity, and will go “stir-crazy,” and possibly develop some bad habits if they don’t get it! – Fi 

The Pet Divas is trying to find the best ways to keep our current client pups happy while also keeping our owners happy! With no way to socialize with other dogs and play fetch in community parks, we have set up 6 feet jogging trail dates. We meet. Stand 6 feet apart, make the dogs sit at each intersection, jog, and walk on our area trails. We add new dogs to the mix each day so that they not only have a new friend to meet, it gives them some more to focus on during walks/runs. We reward them with frozen Kongs and peanut butter. We are also passing out painted rocks with paws on them (if we walk 10 dogs that day, we bring 10 rocks) along the trail for anyone to pick and keep. – The Pet Divas

Keep your dog entertained during quarantine by setting up a treat hunt and/or playing hide and seek! Simply place treats in easy to sniff out places around your house and cheer them on throughout your home! Or, get your kids involved and play a good old fashioned game of hide and seek! Have your dog sit and stay, then walk to a different area in the house and use your “come” command! Reward with a yummy prize for a job well done! – Prized Pet

Turn up the music and pull out a pair of old long socks. You’re probably antsy from being stuck inside and so is your pup. I never met a dog that doesn’t love socks, so make a rope out of a pair and turn the music on. Your favorite dance music. Play tug of war while you dance around your entire home. Make sure you have the windows open, that fresh air coming in can help both of you feel less isolated and your neighbors can enjoy that music too. Of course, it helps if you sing along, I’m sure your dog would join in as well…I know mine do! Twice a day is ideal to keep both of your spirits up. – Jen Loves Pets

These are unprecedented times during which we are spending an unprecedented amount of time with our pets, and they love it! It’s important to remember that just as this time is a transition for you, it is also a transition for your pets, and any new situation can be stressful, which is why we recommend introducing new enrichment activities into your pet’s daily routine that can help build resilience and strengthen their ability to cope during stressful situations. These activities can include turning mealtime into a game; allowing them to express natural behaviors like chewing, pouncing, scratching, and sniffing in an appropriate way; and ensuring that our pets get enough rest now that we are spending the majority of our time at home with them. – Atlanta Humane Society

Take this time to train

With everyone social distancing and staying home, it’s a perfect time for the whole family to take part in reward-based dog training exercises and teach that old or new dog a few more tricks (or basic obedience). With adult supervision, kids can learn responsible pet ownership, animal advocacy, and empathy while entertaining the family dog with a lot of positive attention and training exercises. Dog training can become part of your daily homeschooling. For ideas, exercises, and homeschool curriculums, check out GoodDoginaBox.com. – Good Dog in a box

Take this time to practice the heel command during walks with your dog. Most dogs like to pull ahead on the leash like a Sled Dog. In order to get a dog that walks at your side under control, try this tip: as the dog nears the end of the 6 ft. leash you change direction 180° and tug firmly and command heel while proceeding the opposite direction. This will teach your dog to walk at your side rather than pull ahead – Pete Fischer, Senior Dogtra Consultant

Waggit pet parents are doing an awesome job keeping their pups entertained in these shelter-in-place times as total miles walked is up 108% and total time active is up 187%. Top ideas that were shared at one of our recent Virtual Happy Hours included 1) Practice training on walks to ensure social distancing- when someone else is coming down the trail, stop and practice look at me and sit/stays or even pup pushups. 2) Treat toys, treat toys, treat toys- use them to feed entire meals! 3)Kids practice reading as pups make the best audience. 4)Enjoy the extra snuggle time! – Waggit

Encourage Mental Stimulation

The best way to tire a dog out is to engage their mind. Virtually all dog trainers recommend puzzle toys and with PupPod, the game gets harder as your dog gets smarter. As your dog learns the game, you can add distance between the smart toy and rewards to provide physical exercise too — like creating a doggie Stairmaster. – PupPod

Mental enrichment is essential for keeping dogs occupied during quarantine. When your dog is kept busy, there is less of a chance they will get bored and act out. Things, like playing games, using puzzle toys, and teaching your dog a new trick, will aid in keeping their mind active! You click here to purchase a Canine Coworker Kit designed to keep your dog busy while you’re working from home! – Presidential Pet Care

An often overlooked aspect of keeping your dog healthy is mental stimulation. A smart toy like PlayDate that moves around simulates play with a live animal. This keeps your furry friend mentally stimulated while getting a great workout, all without having to leave the house! – PlayDate

Make mealtime more interactive

The best advice we can give is to keep your pet healthy and engaged. Add mental stimulation and exercise to your dog’s day by making mealtime a challenge with an obstacle course set up leading to their food. Teach your dog a new trick- or better yet- involve your kids to keep both of them occupied at once. Pick up a healthy habit like daily grooming or teeth brushing routines. Start small by getting your pet used to the motions and work up to everyday routines for a healthier pet! – PetValu

One of the best ways to entertain both you and your pup is through snuffle mats! These mats of mayhem are fun for humans to make (you can learn how to do that here), and they tap into your dog’s instinctive need to sniff and forage for food. They’re a great way to keep both you and your dog busy, so snuffle on! – Humane Society of Pikes Peak Region

With all of these great tips for keeping your pet occupied while you WFH (work-from-home), don’t forget to keep them adequately hydrated! Kleanbowl is free of bacteria, viruses, and plaque germs –including those dishwashers do not get hot enough to kill — so they drink more water because their bowls look and smell clean, resulting in healthier hydration and enhanced energy and mood! – Kinn Inc.

Sometimes all you need is a good toy

If you’ve exhausted your usual dog walking routes during quarantine, try some creative exercise activities at home! Get a bubble machine and blow bubbles for your pup to chase + “bite”, fill some Kongs with treats + seal with peanut butter to keep them occupied during your Zoom meeting, or provide some mental exercise with toddler toys you may have laying around like a beads wire maze for them to paw or nose around with! – Purrs and Grrrs

If you’re stuck inside, Kong’s with fillers are always a great go-to, and freezing the peanut butter inside helps it last longer. Frozen raw beef marrow bones are another great way for your dog to occupy time, our top seller is No Hide by earth animal. If you’re able to go outside a few of our favorite toys are Chuck-It and Fly & Fetch by spunky pup. If nothing else, a nice long walk should always do the trick. – Canine Carousel

Just Relax

This may sound woo-woo, but it works! Try calming canine sessions or joint meditations to not only bond with your dog but also reduce anxiety and stress. Start by hitting play on a chill tune from the Relax My Dog YouTube channel. Next, sit on the floor with your pup and place your hand on their belly. For every few breaths they take, you’ll take one deep breath. Before you know it, your best friend will feel super loved (and relaxed), and you’ll feel energized to rock that next Zoom work call! – Hoby Dogy

Looking for activities to do with your dog in quarantine? Try doga (dog yoga)! Doing yoga with your dog can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve circulation, and mellow out a hyperactive dog. – Right Fluff

Dogs need both physical and mental stimulation to keep them occupied so games that involve a bit of a challenge, basic commands and get excess energy out are an excellent solution. High-energy activities are perfect for your hyper breeds, such as creating household hurdles and tunnels in the hallway, fetch in the backyard, or a game of hide and seek with the kids. Calmer dogs might enjoy lowkey, mentally-stimulating games, such as creating interactive puzzles (think pieces of food in a muffin tin covered by tennis balls) or a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter and kibble. – RCO Petcare

The highlight of your pet’s day is when you spend time with them. They do not have friends to call or face time with. They do not have favorite television shows to watch. They have only you! Take the time while you are quarantined to spend time with you and your pet….quality time just sitting and talking to them. Trust me, they will appreciate it and it will be the highlight of their day, week, and month! – Pet Wellness Clinics

When all of this is over

We know what happens when we assume, but we’re willing to go out on a limb for this assumption: We will return back to work at some point. This will come with a variety of its own challenges, including a sad doggo.

Having you home has made them expect constant companionship. Even if you’re not always playing with them, it’s likely been such a delight that you’ve been in the same vicinity as them all day, every day. But there are some things you can do to make the transition easier.

Start gradually making sure they have independent time while you’re still home. You can start small, maybe in 15-minute increments. You could do this by keeping them in a separate room (with a delicious treat, of course) or, if it’s safe for you to do so, actually leave the apartment/house and just walk to the corner and back.

Make sure they do not only depend on you for entertainment. You’re obviously the greatest thing since sliced bread, and nothing is as fun or cool as you in the eyes of your dog. But interactive toys (see above for ideas) are a great way for them to get stimulation on their own. You could start incorporating them now so that they’re already used to self-entertaining, and it’ll seem more normal to them when you’re off to work.

Take them for a day of play with their fellow furry friends at Skiptown! Doggy daycare is a great way to keep them active and entertained all day without you having to worry. Skiptown CLT is set to open this summer, and we’re so pumped to give your dog the BEST DAY EVER every day. – Skiptown CLT