With many parks and dog parks being shut down under “shelter in place” orders, many pet owners might be wondering how to provide effective exercise and continue training habits for pets at this time. While some New Bedford pet owners continue to go on long neighborhood walks with pets while maintaining safe and effective social distancing techniques, others prefer to just stay at home and try to find new ways to get exercise. Your dog won’t be able to get on the Peloton and might not care to use your treadmill, so it pays to be creative when learning how to train a dog to do new types of exercise at home. As always, should you need urgent care and treatment, or have questions about pet care, make sure to contact your local veterinarian in South Coast.
Fun for Pets and People
The good news for those of us who live in the northeast is that we are already well-aware of the challenges posed by pet exercise during the winter months. So many of the techniques that we use when the world is covered in snow and ice can be extended during this time. Many of the games that our pets enjoy playing the most can also be fun and entertaining for people. If you have a backyard or fenced-in area where they can play, consider using that for your exercise space. However, if you prefer to stay inside, many of these games and exercise options can still be done indoors. Most do not require any additional equipment or toys other than the things you likely already own, so it’s much more affordable than those online exercise classes everyone is taking these days.
- FETCH – An age-old favorite; this game is guaranteed to get most pets up and playing; even cats will sometimes get in on this type of play; it is healthy for pets and people, providing interaction and activity – plus a little bit of cardio if you do it right.
- TUG-O-WAR – All you need is a piece of knotted rope, braided cloth, or a dog toy to play this game; some dogs will want to do it for hours though, so be prepared; make sure you don’t allow your dog to become aggressive or exhibit other unwanted behaviors with this game.
- HIDE-AND-SEEK – Sometimes done with treats, this game can be fun for the whole family. You can hide a treat or a favorite toy in various places throughout the house and get the dog to find them. You can also do it with people, having the person who is hiding call the dog’s name and see if they can find them. Make sure to offer some type of reward when your dog finds the toy or person, such as a small healthy treat.
- OBSTACLE COURSE – While this game might be more well-suited for outdoor play, it certainly can be done inside. Use the things you have around the house to challenge your pet to overcome the obstacles in his way, such as going under a chair or table, jumping through a hula hoop or rope, navigate through a tunnel, and other fun ideas. Get the kids in on this one and watch the creative ideas at work. Make sure to reward your dog at the end with a healthy treat to keep him engaged and excited for future exercise courses.
Activity Toys Are Fun, Too
Most pet stores are considered essential businesses, so you might be able to get toys and tools to use for building positive training habits for pets during this time. Books on how to train a dog or teach your dog certain tricks and behaviors are also popular online. Activity toys, such as food dispensing products that offer treats, can also keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated during long periods of inactivity. Food-puzzle toys are also available online from major retailers, and you can order the treats designed to work with them at the same time. Choose something other than your dog’s usual kibble to get them excited about using the toy.
If your dog is older or has physical challenges, obstacle courses, fetch, hide-and-seek, and tug-o-war might be too much for them. However, activity toys and simple games or motivations that get them up off their beds and walking around the house can be extremely beneficial. If your pet has any underlying conditions or health concerns, make sure to consult with your veterinarian in South Coast before starting anything new. The goal for New Bedford pet owners is to increase your dog’s health, not put them in a position where they might overdo it or injure themselves. Contact Anchor Animal Hospital at 508-996-3731 to speak with one of our team members about any concerns you might have about your pet at this time.