So, you are in Northern California or New York City where the COVID-19 virus is running rampant and you’ve been ordered to shelter-in-place, in other words, stay home.
Even without a shelter-in-place requirement, with so many businesses and recreational activities shut down, you may find yourself home more than usual and looking for ways to entertain your pets and keep them active. Or maybe you are just spending more time domiciled than usual because of working from home policies or practicing social distancing (6 feet people!) to help slow the spread of the virus.
The shelter-in-place orders do allow for outdoor exercise as long as you stay six feet away from other people, so walking your dog is still acceptable and healthy for both of you during these stressful times.
- Puppy Leaks has a list of 33 simple ways to keep your dog busy indoors. Among them: Play a game of “hide the treats.” Stuff a Kong toy with small treats they can extract or frozen peanut butter and sweet potato and let them work away. Play a game of tug-of-war with a rope toy. Teach your dog a new trick.
- For cats, use a toy shaped like a mouse or a small bird and make it wiggle and dart like the real thing to get them revved up. Ping-pong balls are also a cheap, easy way to activate their chase instinct. Some cats also find catnip-filled toys irresistible.
- Use items you have at home to make a toy. It could be as simple as pulling a cardboard box out of the recycle bin. Or try one of these:
- Puzzle toy: Take an empty toilet paper tube and pinch the ends together. Fill it with some treats or kibble and pinch the other end closed, then offer to your pet.
- Tug rope: Using scissors, cut an old t-shirt into strips and braid them into a rope, then tie the ends.
- Flirt pole: Find a sturdy stick from outside or use an old broomstick or PVC pipe for this toy. Tie string to the rod, then tie the other end to a ball or toy to dangle in front of your pet.
- Order a couple of interactive toys online for dogs or cats. Having some new puzzle toys will stimulate your pet’s brain.
- For dogs, buy some chew toys or dental treats. For cats, try a scratching post or cat tree.
- Have a cuddle session with your dog or cat (if they enjoy being touched). While you are at it, try out some massage techniques. Just like in humans, benefits include improving cardiovascular health, preventing infection, and alleviating anxiety.
- Not all pets respond to watching videos or TV, but if your pet is one who does, find videos for cats and dogs on YouTube or DVDs designed just for them.
Hopefully, this scary and isolating time will come to an end sooner rather than later, but in the meantime, pets and their people can ease the loneliness with quality time spent together.