Our dogs have now been thrust into the new role of co-worker while lots of us are now working from home amid Coronavirus self-isolation and social-distancing.
We spoke to Instagram star Danielle from @IzzyFreddie who gives her tips on keeping your dog entertained:
"Working from home with your dogs can be challenging, especially when they are used to you being out for long periods of time. They can see you are in the house, but you are still ignoring them? They try their best to get your attention, but you start to feel a little annoyed that they keep pestering, or drop toys at you to play. Bless them, it's not their fault. Their routine has been interrupted and they LOVE your company… but you still need to do your job.
Here are some tips on helping to keep them entertained during this confusing time...
Raw Fed Dogs
I always find mental stimulation helps them settle, so for raw fed dogs a simple change in the way you feed them can be the answer.
Feeding dogs from a bowl is fabulous, it keeps the mess off the floor and they are super easy to wash up, but it is boring. Most of the time dogs fed in a bowl can finish their raw food very quickly, so changing it up is always a bit of fun. Something super easy to clean and wash is vital because we must be hygienic when handling raw food. The best thing is using either a Licki mat or a Kong.
When changing to a Licki mat, really press the food into the grooves, it can keep a dog occupied for up to an hour and is also mentally stimulating while the dog is trying to figure out the best way to remove the food!!
A Kong is also superb and can be used in many different ways. Stuffing them with raw food and then freezing (obviously preparation is key here) can keep a dog occupied for a significant amount of time.
The key thing to remember is to never feed a raw fed dog on carpet and always use a room easy to sanitise, especially with a Kong, or send them outside for a bit of fresh air, if its not raining!
Cold Pressed Dry Fed Dogs
For dogs that are Cold Pressed fed it can be just as exciting!! Weather depending you can scatter feed them outside or in.
Finding food in the grass is a great way of tiring dogs out. They are using their nose, eyes and taste in order to find it.
If you do not want to mess, you can always use a slow feeder bowl or put a tennis ball in their normal bowl to slow them down a bit… some dogs are extremely clever and will take the ball out and still wolf down their food so watch for the first few times if you try this method.
You can even still use a Kong or Liki Mat with Cold Pressed, simply add a little bit of warm water and mix it up to make a paste which you can feed straight away or freeze overnight!
It doesn’t have to take you a long time, while your waiting for the kettle to boil, or are waiting on hold on the phone, you can even practice some tricks with your dog.
One of the best tricks to begin with is teaching a ‘bed’. Have a pocket full or treats and let the dog follow you to their bed. Reward when they are fully on the bed and maybe use a marker word like ‘yes’ or ‘good’ then give them a treat. It's a super useful trick and when you are busy a ‘bed’ command can be a saviour. With younger dogs and puppies it can often be easier but to begin with they must always be rewarded.
It's always great to learn tricks in short sessions, usually 5 minutes a few times a day, and if your dog doesn’t get bored you can increase the length of time each session.
Even if the dog already has a long list of skills, keep practising and rewarding, it's always fabulous for them to have a refresher. Trick training is a brilliant way of tiring dogs out mentally and in some cases physically too.
Lots of places now have games that you can buy for your dog. These games are sure to use the dogs brain and get them thinking. Some great examples are puzzle feeders. These can come in many different varieties, from balls to doors, and each one is super for helping dogs use their brain.
Some games are more challenging and others are very easy, but the longer it takes for the dog to figure out, the more tired they are going to be!!
Nothing beats a good old walk in the fresh air! Being outside can be a lovely experience for dog and owner, but with the current situation you need to ensure you keep your distance from other humans and keep local.
For lots of dogs, a walk is all about exploring and sniffing, for others its all about the bond they have with you! Practising tricks on a walk and rewarding good behaviour improves their mood and yours. Playing with toys and varying where your walks take you are very helpful to mentally tire them out.
Alternating lead walks and free running can be great to, this way the dogs can never tell if they are going to be on a lead or not even if you are in an open field. You could try keeping your dog on the lead for a few minutes, then let them off to burn off some excess energy, and then return them to the lead walk a bit further, then do some tricks on lead, then proceed to let them off again.
The change in the walk creates a positive association with you and helps the dogs brain to function more by trying to guess what they are going to be doing next!"
With restrictions and social distancing guidance changing daily, please make sure you are updated with the current regulations before going on a local walk, and ensure you keep your distance (at least 2 metres - that's the length of about 2 German Shepherds!) from others during your exercise.