Whether as a result of self-isolation, remote working, or both, it’s clear that – for the foreseeable future, at any rate – we’re all going to be spending a lot more time at home.
And while our four-legged friends may jump for joy at the prospect of fetch and belly rubs available on tap, for us human owners, a playful pup or kitten can wreak havoc with a work schedule.
So how can we keep our pets entertained whilst getting your head down? Greencross Vets’ chief veterinary officer, Dr Magdoline Awad, offers up some expert tips and tricks to keep your furry housemate occupied – and out of your home office.
Restless pet? Use your pooch as an excuse to kill two birds with one stone. Remember, a regular break is just as important for you as it is for your furry friend.
“It’s important that we still keep ourselves active whilst practicing social distancing,” Dr Magdoline said. “To do this with our pets is relatively easy. You can still take your dogs for leash walks, being careful to maintain the two-metre rule from others.”
Short walks several times daily allows dogs and their human owners to exercise, recharge, and to alleviate boredom.
“For cats, it’s important to make time to interact with them as a means of providing physical activity,” Dr Magdoline said.
“Provide them with scratching posts in several locations to assist in strengthening their muscles and allow enough space so that they can roam and explore access at least several rooms.”
LET THEM CHEW
Dogs and chewing go together like butter and Vegemite. So, to help keep them occupied make sure to invest in at least a few varieties of chew too to both prevent any destructive tendencies, but also to keep them busy.
“Chewing is a natural behaviour for dogs and a way of exploring the world,?” Dr Magdoline said. “It’s also a great way to beat boredom and relieve anxiety. Remember to make sure that they have chew toys that are right for them – make sure they’re durable, and the right size for your pet.”
A dogs primary sense, smell is a cornerstone of how your pet views the world. Use this to your advantage to help keep your pup entertained by hiding treats around the house as a sort of canine scavenger hunt.
“Hide treats around the yard and house,” Dr Magdoline said. “This will fill in time and keep them from getting bored.
“It’s also a great way to feed your pet’s meals over the course of the day.”
Food is a surefire way to your dog or cats hearts, so it makes sense that food puzzles can be utilised to keep idle paws busy during days when you need to get through work from your home office.
Consider investing in a Kong (or similar), or go DIY, and make your own version.
“Food games and puzzles encourage physical activity and alleviate boredom,” Dr Magdoline said. “You can use Kongs filled with food, or toilet rolls filled with dry treats. Remember to ensure that this food is accounted for in their daily caloric intake.”
TAME BOREDOM WITH TOYS
Whether you’re sick or self-isolating, staying at home while getting through your daily workload without pets interrupting is a lot easier if you’re armed with a stack load of mentally-stimulating toys.
“Toys are a great way to encourage your cat or dog to stay active indoors,” Dr Magdoline said.
“Cats naturally like stalking, pouncing and grabbing, so using string on a stick, or balls made out of paper or foil. For dogs, playing tug of war or fetch is a great way of using excess energy.”