Following the mop, barking at the vacuum cleaner, romping up and down the stairs while mum gets on with the housework. These are just a few of the things house-bound dogs in the Overstrand are getting up to during the lockdown, which has turned the lives of both residents and their pets upside down.

Not being able to leave our homes for 21 days is proving to be quite a challenge, especially for our four-legged friends who have found their daily routines abruptly changed. Those who are used to energetic daily walks simply won’t understand why they are being deprived of this pleasure and instead are kept inside for longer periods than usual. This is calling for some super creativity on the part of their owners, like the video doing the rounds on social media of a dog being walked by its owner’s drone.

While this can be an anxious time for everybody it is important to try and stay positive. Take a step back and look at this lockdown as a chance to do the things you may not usually have time for, such as spending more time with your pet. The good news is that pets play a special role as companions, especially for those who live alone, and can provide comfort and emotional support to their owners during this difficult time. Interacting with animals not only lowers stress levels but also boosts the immune system, which makes us more resistant to diseases.

Here is how some locals I spoke to are keeping their pets occupied:

Marianne Wiid, who has two rescue dogs, a bouncy little black dog called Tyson and a bigger dog, Ben, puts their leashes on at the usual walkies time every day and takes them out around the garden. Judy Miller, mom to an energetic rescue dog called Jedi, says one of her tricks is to shake it up in the morning with a romp around the lounge to music, waving a toy. (Be sure to have any valuables likely to be knocked over by a wagging tail stowed away in a safe place.)

Big dogs are often perceived to need more exercise than smaller breeds, but this is not always the case. It all depends on the breed; for example, dogs bred for hunting or herding will need the most – between one and two hours of general activity plus 30 minutes of vigorous activity daily. Hunter/herder breeds include Labrador retrievers, hounds, collies, shepherds, pointers and spaniels.

Breeds such as Great Danes, Bull Mastiffs, Greyhounds and Old English sheep dogs require 30 – 60 minutes’ exercise a day. Always be mindful of your dog’s personality, age and ability, and remember that many dogs take after their owners, so if you are a high-octane person, your dog is likely to be more energetic, too, especially if it’s a Jack Russel, Border Collie, Boxer or Pointer. Older dogs, on the other hand, may be more laid-back and require less exercise and ‘entertainment’.


Here are a few ideas from Four Paws International on how to keep your pet busy and have some fun together.

DOGS

Search Games: Hiding some treats and toys all around the house will create something like a scavenger hunt for your dog. He can use his senses and enjoy these rewards once he finds them. Just make sure you only hide small amounts of tasty food, and not too much.

Shell game: Place three plastic cups upside-down on the floor and hide a treat under one of the cups. Move the cups around each other while your dog watches the movements. Then see if he can find the cup with his reward.

Frozen treats: are another source of fun and entertainment.  You just need to put some food or a treat in an ice-cream container, fill it with water and freeze it. Your pet will have lots of fun waiting for the ice to melt and revealing the delicious surprise for him to enjoy.

Chewing: is a natural behaviour for dogs and chews such as Kongs can keep your dog busy for hours, as well as helping to maintain good dog dental hygiene.

Teach basic commands: Does he already know the important commands like “sit”, “stay”, “come”? Now is the time to put in some hours of reward-based training. 

Teach names: Give toys names and ask your dog to fetch “teddy”, “ball”, or “dolly” and put them in a box.

Tidying up: Much to the delight of your children, train your dog to put away his toys, too, preferably in a box. Perhaps moms can use this technique to train their youngsters and come out of lockdown smiling.

CATS

Agility: Use your DIY talents to build agility courses for your feline friends. There are lots of suggestions on the internet for courses that lead up the wall to the ceiling and back down again.

Fishing games: Turn some string into a kind of fishing rod. Fix a shuttlecock at the end of it and then swing it through the room. Your cat will love chasing it!

Ball games: Throwing a bouncy ball against the wall will keep your cat busy for hours trying to catch it.

Torch game: use a torch to make a light spot dart around the room and let your cat indulge her passion for ‘hunting’ it.

SOURCES: www.four-paws.org & www.wikihow.com

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