MAKING sure dogs stay active and entertained during the lockdown will be taxing plenty of owners.
Luckily, Pet Vet Sean McCormack has come up with an action plan for keeping your pooch stimulated.
It may be teaching them new tricks, trying out dog yoga — or making the most of one-hour walkies.
Sean says: “If you need to self- isolate, your dog will probably be pleased their human is now around all day for cuddles and treats."
"But, at the same time, dogs dream of running in the park, muddy puddles and chasing squirrels, and they can cause havoc in the house if they don’t have enough stimulation. So it is vital to find different ways to keep them entertained so they don’t cause any mischief indoors.”
Sean, who is also head vet at dog food firm Tails.com, adds: “Unless you are self-isolating, you can still take your dog for a walk. Going to the park will give you both a much-needed change of scenery, and mental stimulation."
“But make sure to stay more than two metres away from other walkers and to wash your hands when you return home. If you can’t go out, why not use the time to teach your dog a new trick? It can be a bit of fun — and who knows, after a bit of time they might be able to show off their new party piece."
“You can also try filling their toys with peanut butter, but make sure it’s of a xylitol-free variety so it’s safe. Aim to put the treats in hard places to reach because it will keep them entertained for hours.”
Sean recommends baking biscuits for you AND your dog to enjoy.
He says: “This is more likely to keep you busy, rather than your pooch, but your furry friend will appreciate the end result. Search tails.com and Happy Dog Cookbook to find free recipes and details.”
There are something other things you can try. Listening to music is another great way to keep busy. Spotify launched its first playlist this year for dogs and owners to enjoy.
We all know dogs love a good sniff, but have you ever thought your pet could be a sniffer dog? You can do some great scent-training at home. Check out lessons on YouTube or UKsnifferdogs.com courses. Or just simply going outside and playing in the garden with your dog is great for them — and you too.
Why not make the most of the confined time to really pamper your r — giving them a bath and fuss will strengthen bonds. To keep your own mind and body healthy, Sean also recommends trying Doga — a dogs’ yoga you can do with your pet.
Or just have a simple snuggle with your dog on the sofa. Sean says: “While having your cuddle, try to look into your pooch’s eyes, as you make a fuss of them.
“Evidence suggests an increase in levels of bonding hormone oxytocin is experienced by both dog and owner when their eyes make contact.”
Star of the week
SHAKESPEARE hasn’t let the slings and arrows of life get him down.
The eight-year-old Staffy cross suffers from allergies, has had a cancer scare and two major operations.
And after being abused and abandoned as a pup is likely to develop arthritis.
But he always has a warm welcome for his owners. Danielle Brier, 27, her mum Yvonne Vine, 43, and dad Andy Appleyard, 46, found him at their local Dogs’ Trust in Leeds.
Danielle said: “He’s made our lives better and we just try our best to give him the love and treats he deserves.
"He’s still a happy dog and he really is just a gift that keeps on giving.”
Lorna Brightmore, 29, from Croydon, South London, has a three-year-old Saluki cross called Bernie.
Q) WHY do some male dogs not cock their leg to pee, when others do? And why does Bernie pee on his own front legs. I’m horrified – is there something wrong with him?”
A) It’s a bit of a myth that all males cock their leg and females don’t. In fact, this is quite a variable behaviour in dogs. It doesn’t mean Bernie’s less of a man!
As for the weeing-on-legs thing, Bernie’s a Saluki so I’m guessing that the trajectory of the wee is from a great height and his front legs just happen to be in the way of the stream.
I’m doubtful that it’s deliberate, and dogs can be pretty blasé about these things. It’s just a quirk.
Steve Eade, 44, from Halifax, West Yorks, has a Golden Retriever dog called Jack.
Q) LAST week I told off my dog for being naughty but as soon as I did it, he ran over to my wife. We both just laughed at what we saw, but it’s as if he knew exactly what he was doing.
He then didn’t sit with me for the rest of the evening. Are dogs intelligent enough to play their owners off against each other? Or to sulk?
A) Yes, if you shout at, or scold, your dog, he will be wary of you for a while afterwards, and he is able to tell from your behaviour and facial expressions when you are likely to do the same next time.
This is the reason for the common misconception that dogs know when they have done something bad or are in trouble. Actually, they are just reading your reaction in that moment.
They won’t associate you being mad with the skirting board they chewed six hours previously. They just know you are angry.
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