There are many reasons that dogs may not be able to take part in daily walks. With the clocks going back we head into the dark months of Autumn and Winter and that can also signal fireworks. Not just on Bonfire Night but several times throughout the Autumn and Winter period as they are used to celebrate New Year and Diwali for example.
There are times when your dog might become unwell, or have had surgery, and be required to have a period of rest. Some behavioural issues may require a period of short or no walks to help overcome this issue and of course the unpredictable UK weather can become extreme to the point where it is not safe to venture outdoors. Whatever the cause there are ways you can keep your dog both mentally and physically stimulated from the comfort of the indoors.
Leading raw pet food and wellness company Bella & Duke focus on doing what’s right by our pets. To help pet parents across the country prepare for times when going out and about with our furry friends just isn’t possible, Bella & Duke has shared five of their favourite enrichment activities that you can do inside.
DIY enrichment games
With a little bit of crafty creativity your daily household items or recyclables can be turned into engaging enrichment games. Use a toilet roll tube or cereal box as a treat dispenser, encouraging your dog to roll the cardboard tube, or get their paws in the cereal box to free their delicious natural dog treats.
For something trickier and more mentally stimulating, begin by getting a muffin tray and smearing your dog’s delicious food on the inside of each individual muffin cup. Once they get the hang of it, place tennis balls on top of each muffin cup with some treats hidden under a few of the tennis balls, requiring your dog to use their nose to sniff out their treats.
Snuffle mats and towel treats
Snuffle mats are another great cognitive activity to boost your pet’s mental enrichment. If you don’t already own a snuffle mat, you can create your own with a towel and a handful of treats. Scatter some tantalising treats across the towel and starting from one end tightly roll up the towel to keep them snug and secure. If the simple roll proves too easy for your dog, tie a knot (not too tight) to add that extra layer of challenge.
Play some games around the house and garden
Whatever the size of your house or garden you can set up some search games. This provides both mental and physical exercise, especially in the garden where they have more space. Hide some tasty treats around and let your canine companion search for them. As they get better at it you can even make it harder by popping a treat under an upturned plant pot for example. Inside you could try placing treats under cups, blankets and anything dog friendly you can find in the house.
Spend quality time together
Treat the time indoors as a blessing and an opportunity to build on your relationship with one another. Grooming is important for maintaining a healthy coat and also gives you an opportunity to give your pet a nose to tail health check. Or you could spend some time enjoying some training together; teach them something new or practice an old favourite, you can even video it to send to family and friends.
Book a special treat
If your dog is physically able to do so you could book a fun swim at a pet hydrotherapy centre. You can have fun indoors, it can be great gentle exercise for arthritic dogs or those recovering from surgery (always consult your vet first) and believe it or not 1 minute of swimming is said to be equivalent to 4 minutes of running!
As always, to keep your dog safe, always make sure that you supervise your dog with any equipment or toys you give them and always remove anything that is damaged.
Liz Lannie, Pet Behaviourist at Bella & Duke, said: “We know how important daily walks are for your pet, but the reality is that sometimes it’s just not feasible. From knowing fireworks are on the horizon or if you or your dog can’t commit to a full walk, enrichment activities are a great way to keep your furry friend mentally and physically engaged. Let your dog use their natural instincts to find treats and solve puzzles, keeping them busy like this is a great outlet for their energy without causing strain on their body and keeping them safe from the loud bangs and booms of fireworks.”