After several weeks of Coronavirus precautions, the novelty of having the humans at home all day may now be wearing thin for your dog. Our faithful canine friends are social creatures but, like us, they also need mental stimulation. To put it bluntly, dogs can be bored and get antsy, just like us.
Brook Farm families and staff are sharing ideas that they've used for preventing pet boredom and behavioral problems. If you and the family dog are feeling stir crazy while being housebound, try a few of these suggestions.
TAKE A RIDE
Sometimes, just getting out makes all the difference, even if it's just a leisurely drive through the neighborhood.
"German shepherd's are smart dogs; there's only so much fetch we can play before he gets bored. I've found a car ride once or twice during the week gives us both a chance to get out and take a break." - Sara M.
PUZZLES AND GAMES
One of the best ways to keep a dog's senses active and engaged is with simple puzzles and games. Often, these involve letting your dog figure out how to catch a toy or get a treat.
"Youtube is a treasure trove of simple puzzles for dogs like Kasey. The best part is you don't have to run out and buy anything; there's a lot of do-it-yourself stuff that costs nothing! We just tried one that has you cut open about a 1-inch slit on a tennis ball and put a few treats inside. She spent nearly a half hour rolling it and tossing it herself to get those treats out." Marion V.
If you're concerned about giving your pet too many treats, small slivers of carrot or tiny chunks of sweet potato are healthy options, too. Check with your Brook Farm vet if you have any questions about what veggies are safe for your pooch.
Keep your dog mentally engaged with simple games like hide and seek. Letting them find you in different rooms of the house can be fun and challenges all your dog's senses.
"We have about 6 or 7 Amazon boxes in the house; I have the kids put a treat in the box and shuffle them around to make Buster find it. It keeps him and the kids busy for a little bit!" Eric S.
SPECIAL TIME TOGETHER
This can be a stressful time for a cat or dog. They're also experiencing major changes in their routine without understanding why everything is happening. Extra attention and love helps reassure them that they're safe. Even if it's just a few minutes of extra brushing or cuddling on the couch for a movie, that's time they'll appreciate.
"Bitsy is a Yorkie so she's temperamental by nature. I've started making 'Bitsy breaks' during the day to tell her momma loves her. If she knows I'm stressed from working at home or she hears the kids fighting, it upsets her. You don't realize how much a dog picks up on the energy in the house." Margaret C.
How are you and your pets dealing with housebound boredom? Share your ideas and tips with us on the Brook Farm Veterinary Center Facebook page!