Right now, everything is a bit messy in the world. With Covid-19 making people ill around the globe, many countries are on lock down, quarantining their people to keep everyone safe and stop the spread of the illness. But where does that leave us as dog owners who still have dogs to care for and who need exercising and stimulating?
Right now, in the UK we have been told we are only allowed out of the house to exercise once a day. For most dog owners, that means longer walks if we have time or if we are working from home during the day, one normal length walk for our dog during the day. Dog walkers are no longer able to offer their services and unless you have multiple family members who go out separately, it leaves you with little scope to fulfil your dogs exercise needs.
Now for some dogs, one walk a day for the next however long this goes on for is fine and they are happy to adapt and don't cause any issues in that time. If you have a dog like that then that's great! All of our dogs are taught to adapt to however much exercise there is available on offer each day as the nature of our job means we may be out walking all day, a few hours or on the road for long journeys with only a little walking around that. For us, we aim for at least 2 hours a day with our main pack and we are lucky enough to have the flexibility on your average day as well as now to be able to work with the current situation. For some of our dogs however, one walk a day simply doesn't cut it. We have several working line breeds in our pack who like to and are used to being always on the move and getting lots of exercise and stimulation every single day. For them, this time is as hard as it is for us! Out of our other 6, our old boy doesn't really come for walks as he is too ill and so that leaves us with 5 dogs needing around 2 hours of exercise a day. 2 of those are working line breeds so naturally have a lot more energy and need ore stimulation, one is also a high energy breed and the other two are happy to have a short walk and just sleep.
So to help those who have dogs that are struggling in this time with one walk a day, here are some tips on things you can do to help them feel fulfilled and well stimulated at the end of the day!
1. If you have family members who can help, do separate walks and stick to your normal routine as best you can.
We are lucky enough to have four of us living in the same house throughout this - me and Nathan, Nathan's mum and Nathan's sister. Nathan's mum is a key worker so is still working each day and is out of the house early and back at random times. She walks her boy first thing and then generally we take him out with us or Nathan's sister does in the afternoon which is pretty much his normal routine. For the rest of the dogs we utilise who we have at home and change their exercise accordingly. Nathan's sister is still working but only doing odd days at the moment so when she is home she often joins one of us on a walk with the dogs to help out. If she isn't home there is still two of us so we can easily take the 5 out on our own to do two walks a day if we want to. If you have family members at home who could help out and use their exercise slot to walk your dog again - us them! We all need to work together in this time!
2. Go for longer walks if you can
If you know your area has some nice long dog walks and you have the time, take your dog on a super long walk to wear them out a bit. Don't do this everyday, as your dog may get used to the really long walks and then struggle to be fulfilled on the shorter ones but if you have scope to walk for longer than normal some days, do it!
3. Set time aside for brain games
If you don't have the time or people to do lots of walks or long walks, set aside time for one walk and then brain games in the garden or in the house to help your dog use their brain and get rid of some of their energy. Brain games are great for using up your dogs excess energy as its less about the physical exercise and more about the mental stimulation. We'll be posting some videos of brain games you can play with your dogs on our Facebook and Youtube over the next few weeks so head on over there if you need some ideas!
4. Do some training exercises at home
On day one of quarantine we spoke on our Facebook page about how we were starting off our quarantine time with short walks once a day and lots of training exercises throughout the day. The reason for this was because we wanted our dogs to get used to not so much physical exercise and more relaxation time during the day. We talked about how place training and teaching your dog to just relax during the day would actually be a tiring exercise for your dog - especially if they don't often just lie down and chill out a lot during the day! Utilise what time and resources you have at home and do training exercises to really get your dogs brain working! Again, we are currently getting a load of at home training exercises you can do to wear out your dogs during the day.
5. Keep some sort of routine to help your dog adjust
The drastic change in exercise, routine and normality for some dogs can be really stressful. Even though it won't be THE normal routine, try and keep to some sort of normal routine during this time to help your dog adjust to the changes and know what is going on each day.
This season is going to be difficult for all of us. Humans and animals alike are having to have their lives changed, routines remade and are finding other ways to keep busy.
Let's all work together as much as we can to make sure us and our pets are cared for in the best way that we possibly can throughout this difficult time.