Guest post by Farah Al-Khojai
Winter, continuous rain, scorching weather, and a pandemic (think COVID-19) can put a stop to your dog’s joyful and all-important walks outdoors.
These unfortunate conditions can cause your dog to miss out on several health benefits, including burning calories and maintaining a healthy weight. Your pet won’t enjoy better digestion and stronger joints, either.
What’s more, your pet won’t get the chance to socialise with other pups.
However, being stuck indoors shouldn’t be an excuse for you to neglect your pet’s wellness and happiness. There are plenty of ways for you to keep your dog healthy and content even if you can’t take him outside.
Below are some tips for keeping your dog in the best shape while you’re both stuck indoors:
1. Stock up on your pet’s favorite food
Feeding your dog high-quality pet food is a good start when it comes to keeping him healthy.
When you give your pet the right dog food, he will get all the nutrients he needs to support his growth and well-being. These include essential vitamins and minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and the correct amount of fats that is suitable for canines.
Your dog needs all these nutrients to maintain good muscle tone and healthy digestion, skin, and fur. They are also important for boosting your pet’s immune system and helping him avoid diseases.
All these will go a long way in helping you keep your furry friend healthy while staying cooped up inside your home.
2. Let your dog run around the house
All dogs love to run, especially in the park. Allow your pet to continue doing so at home through these tips:
- Play fetch: Roll a tennis ball down a clear, obstacle- and debris-free hallway. Let your dog chase it and give it back to you several times for a great exercise session.
- Engage in hallway chases: Have your dog chase you up and down the hallway. Entice him with a treat or his favourite toy.
3. Get your pet on a treadmill
If you have a treadmill, let your dog use it every day, too.
Put your dog on the treadmill. Set the machine at the lowest speed first. Once he gets the hang of using it, gradually increase the speed.
Give your pet treats once in a while to motivate him to stay on the treadmill.
If you don’t have this type of equipment, there are treadmills designed specifically for dogs. You can invest in one if you think your pet will love exercising on this machine.
Dog treadmills are smaller than regular ones and thus take up less space in your home. You won’t have to worry about finding a large area to set it up in.
4. Play games with your pet
Aside from running, there are other fun activities that will help your dog get exercise indoors. These include:
- Obstacle course: An obstacle course inside your home gives your dog a proper mental and physical workout. Use cushions, blankets, pillows, chairs, and other items you have to create obstacles that he can run through and jump over. Give your pet treats to encourage him.
- Hide and seek: Find a hiding spot, then call your dog from there. Once he finds you, give him a treat. This game is best played with other people, so try to get the others involved; tell them to hide and call your dog so that he can find them. Give them treats to reward your furry friend when he spots them, too.
- Tug of war: If your dog already understands the “drop it” and “leave it” commands, play tug of war with him. Simply throw a ball across the hallway and chase after it. Try to get the toy away from him and use the command word when you want him to drop it.
5. Give your pet plenty of toys
Toys are the best things that you can give your dog to keep him entertained and happy.
Aside from balls, plushies, and chew toys, make sure you give him ones that stimulate his brain. Puzzle and dispenser toys, which hide treats inside and give dogs both mental and physical exercise, are excellent options. They can also keep your dog busy for half an hour or so, depending on his attention span.
To prevent your pet from getting bored with the same toys, rotate them every month or so. By doing this, your dog will regard a plaything as new if he hasn’t seen it for several weeks.
Additionally, give your dog several choices so that he won’t get bored playing with the same thing over and over again. You can look up and buy good-quality dog toys online.
6. Create a comfortable environment for your pet
Keeping your pet comfy inside your home is a must if you want him to stay healthy and happy throughout his confinement.
During winter, make sure your dog has a cozy bed. Place plenty of blankets and some toys on his cot so that he finds this place comfy and appealing.
If you want to buy a new bed for your pet, choose one that meets his specific needs. For instance, if you have a short-haired dog that often tends to feel cold, pick a cot that is cave-like with a fluffy overhang.
However, if you have a long-haired dog, it is best to get him a cot-style bed without any fluff so that he won’t feel hot while sleeping.
Additionally, maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. A good rule of thumb is to let your own comfort guide your choice of condition inside your abode. But in general, like humans, most dogs are comfortable in the high 60s to low 70s.
7. Let sunlight and fresh air enter your home
Dogs love seeing what is going on outside. As such, open the curtains or blinds. Aside from giving your pet something to look at, the sunlight will help improve his mood and he will have a nice, warm spot to take a nap in.
If it is sunny and warm, open the windows as well so that your dog can get some fresh air. However, make sure you look after him while he is near an open window, especially if you have not installed pet-proof screens on them.
To ensure your pet can look out some windows, put perches on the windowsills. An end table is another option if you don’t want to install these features.
8. Organise doggie playdates
Lastly, your pet will feel happier and get the exercise he needs at the same time when you let him play with other dogs.
Invite your neighbour, friend, or relative to bring their dog to your home. Try to limit your invitation to three dogs if you don’t want to clean up a big mess after the playdate.
Make sure you prepare your home for this playdate as well. Bring out plenty of toys the pets can play with. Keep valuable items in places the dogs won’t be able to reach or damage accidentally.
Finally, prepare plenty of treats for all pets. Make sure you prep some beverages and snacks for their owners if they plan to stay during the playdate, too.
By following these tips, you will have a pet that is a joy to own even if you two are cooped inside your home.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.