With the spread of Covid-19 and input of self-distancing and isolating measures, many of us are spending more time at home with our pets. Despite limited opportunities to get out and about, we still have a responsibility to make sure they receive as much exercise and enrichment as possible. To help, we have put together some tips and ideas for you; read on to find out how to keep your pets entertained during this difficult time.
There is currently no evidence that pets can be carriers of Covid-19 virus, but always follow basic hygiene procedures after handling pets anyway and wash your hands!
Food and Water
While we do not advocate panic buying and ask you only to buy what you need, it is always a good idea to have a supply of food for your pet, as diet changes can cause stomach upsets. If you do have to change their food, leave enough time to change over gradually. Also consider other supplies, such as hay and vegetables for small animals and repeat medications.
How much you can walk your dog will depend on where you are in the world and what restrictions are in place. As of the 24th March, the UK, for example, is in lockdown with a limit of one walk per person a day and that is alone or with your household only and keeping your distance from others. If you are ill and self-isolating, it is essential to stay in to avoid passing the virus around.
If you can’t get out with your dog, think about the following but be sure to follow any restrictions in place in your area:
- Arranging a shared garden rotation with other residents so everyone can spend time outside without direct contact
- Asking a neighbour or friend to walk your dog, keeping the handover brief and handsfree
- Entertaining your dog in the home with toys, games and training
Being trapped inside can be as boring for our pets as it can be for us but look on this as an opportunity to spend quality time with them! There are dozens of brain games available to buy online, but you can also make your own by hiding food in cardboard tubes or egg cartons or creating toilet roll tube mazes for small pets. Scent games, including laying trails of food or hide and seek, can actually be more tiring for dogs than a long walk.
Now maybe the perfect time to work on your dog’s training. Teach them a new skill or work on breaking that bad habit that’s been driving you mad! Dog’s Trust offer videos about reward-based training on their website or you could buy a training book or work with a trainer remotely. Before deciding though, do some research and make sure you stick to positive, cruelty-free training methods.
If you have a puppy whose classes have been cancelled, ask your trainer for some exercises to work on at home and try to keep his socialisation up if you have a safe space and neighbours with calm adult dogs.
Space to relax
For many pets, having their human at home all day will be a new experience. While this will be exciting, they may also appreciate some time to themselves so make sure your pet has a safe space to rest in and respect their decision if they want to spend some time alone. This is especially important if there are active children in the house all day wanting to play when they would usually be at school. Animals need a break too!
Care for horses
The British Horse Society has guidelines on their website on how to care for your horse during this time. They recommend keeping in remote contact with other owners and making sure that you have a detailed care plan for your horse available, including feeding, rugs and turnout time in case someone else needs to step in.
Our final point is to remember that other people may be struggling at this time too. If you have elderly neighbours or those in self-isolation, offer to help exercise their dogs or bring them shopping when you go out.
Stay safe, and we will all get through this together.
Blog by OneKind volunteer writer, Ami Patrick.