Covid-19 has been a blessing for most of our four-legged friends! But the pandemic's second wave, increased restrictions, and more lockdowns across the country might have you wondering whether your dogs daily routine is starting to get a little stale. Just like humans, dogs need high quality food, adequate exercise, and lots of love and mental stimulation to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. This ultimate guide to living in a lockdown with your dog will ensure you and your four-legged friend make the most your time together in isolation.
A healthy dog needs a healthy diet
Your dog’s brain function and energy levels rely on the nutrients from their food, unfortunately most budget commercial dog food is full of low quality corn based fillers to save money. Many of these foods lack sufficient high quality protein and without the right kind of fuel your dog will function below their potential. Use this time as an opportunity to take stock in the type of food your dog is receiving. How might you feel if your next 90 meals all had to be eaten at fast-food restaurants. If your dog is on a kibble diet it might be a great time to consider raw food.
Although you will pay more having your dog on a raw food diet, think of raw food as an investment in your dog’s health, happiness, and longevity. A raw food diet can help your dog live a longer life with fewer health ailments, and in turn can save you thousands in veterinary bills in the long run. Whether it’s kibble or raw food, try Open Farm for the convenience of dog food delivery. This Canadian company delivers high-quality food derived from ethically sourced protein and non GMO fruits and veggies.
When researching dog foods, remember that dogs thrive on high quality protein, so every recipe should start with a high quality meat as its first ingredient. Look for foods that use meats raised naturally without any antibiotics or growth hormones, and foods that are free of artificial flavors, preservatives or fillers. And if possible, try to find a dog food that sources their ingredients from third-party verified family farms that employ humane farming practices.
Just like choosing a healthy dog food, reaching for the right treats can have a significant impact on your dog’s overall brain function and energy levels. Have you ever fed your dog a piece of gourmet food from your dinner plate and wondered whether they could have possibly enjoyed it in the 0.5 seconds before it was gone? One of the great things about dogs is that they will eat and enjoy pretty much anything, so why not reach for high quality snacks. The average dog weighs 40lbs and only needs 600-800 calories per day, so why not substitute the chips or buttery popcorn for some carrots and broccoli.
Just like dog food, snacks that consist of lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables are much healthier than starches like potatoes. Dogs also benefit from vitamins C and E which can be found in pineapple, peppers, almonds, and spinach, as well as selenium, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids which can be found in walnuts, chicken, spinach, and kale. If your dog is not excited by these healthy snacks, add some carrots or blueberries and blend the mixture together and serve in their bowl. And if you’re looking to spice things up, give one of these 3 easy to make homemade recipes a try:
Apple Pie Pupsicles:
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup pureed apple
- Mix together and pour into an ice tray, freeze thoroughly, and serve
Homemade 3-Ingredient Dog Treats: - 1/2 cup peanut butter - 1 cup pureed pumpkin (plain, not pie filling) - 1 ¾ cups oat four (make you own by blending oats for 1 minute in magic bullet) - Preheat oven to 350, combine ingredients, roll into cookie sized treats, bake for 20-minutes
Peanut Butter Kong: - Seal the small hole of a KONG with peanut butter - Turn upside down and stuff with kibble, cottage cheese, or banana.
Adequate exercise improves your dog’s day
Similar to their human counterparts, more than 50% of dogs are overweight and do not receive enough exercise. We’ve all been there; it’s been a cold and snowy week and you realize that you’ve cut your dog’s walk short 3 out of 5 days! In the wild, dogs are constantly on the move, but unfortunately domestic dogs can quickly become accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle. Getting the proper amount of exercise will help reduce behavioral problems, keep your dog healthy, lean, and confident. Dog walking is far more important that just a potty break and stretch of the old legs, dog walks also serve as a form of socialization, mental stimulation, and overall wellbeing.
If you tend to stick to on-leash walks, try a different route, dogs quickly become accustomed to walking the same routes over and over, and quickly grow bored of the same sights and smells. Try venturing off the beaten path to provide a new experience and make sure to give your dog plenty of time to smell the roses. Dogs have up to 300 million scent receptors, so give your dog a chance to take everything in and maximize the stimulation an on-leash walk can provide.
If possible, try to take your dog to the off-leash park at least once per day. Off leash parks give your dog a chance to run at full speed, sniff, and meet as many other new dogs as they fancy! Off leash parks are also great to burn off that excess energy by playing fetch with their favorite ball or frisbee.
What if I can’t get my dog the exercise they need?
We know how much you love your dog and everyone understands that sometimes life just gets in the way, even during a lockdown! Luckily, Spot’s network of professional dog walkers means your dog never has to suffer when you get busy. With the ability to book up to an hour walk with as little as 90-minutes notice, an on-demand dog walking service can be a life saver and ensure your dog is never cooped up all day. If you’ve never tried Spot before, download “Spot Dog Walking” in your app store of choice to get started and receive 50% off your first walk!
Mental stimulation is just as important as exercise
Dogs make great human companions! In the wild, dogs are pack animals and tend to be very social, but without a pack, they rely on their owners for company. Luckily, dogs can find nearly as much stimulation inside a house or apartment as they do out on a walk. Playing with, training, or challenging your dog will help keep their mind sharp and their spirits active, and will help prevent boredom, loneliness, and even depression. Dogs are definitely not meant to sit in a crate or on a bed all day without any activity, and most dogs were bread with a purpose or job in mind. Look no further if your dog’s working mind needs a little extra stimulation, here are several fun and easy ways to provoke your dog’s mind while stuck inside!
Make your dog work for their food: - When feeding your dog, consider puzzle toys and work-to-eat toys rather than just filling up their bowl. - To extend meal time from one to several minutes, save a handful of your dogs kibble and play a game of catch. - Separate your dog’s food into 3 bowls, have your dog sit and stay, find a sneaky spot to hide each bowl one at a time, say "OK" and encourage your dog until they find each reward.
Play a game: - Grab 3 cups and place a treat underneath one, shuffle the cups around and encourage your dog to find the cup with the treat! - Play a game of high jump by grabbing all of the toilet paper in the house, start by lining up one row and encourage your dog with a treat to jump the barrier, then start stacking the toilet paper higher and higher until they’ve reached their limit, raising the jump each session. - Tightly tie 5 old T-shirts (preferably unwashed) together into a rope and challenge your dog to a tug of war! - Build a SUPERDOGS obstacle course; jump over the books, crawl under a coffee table, and weave through the toilet paper! - Hide and Seek: Have your dog sit and stay, find a sneaky hiding spot, call your dog and keep quiet until they find you.
Learn a new trick together: - There are countless fun and easy tricks on the internet, just remember not to get frustrated and give up, new tricks take time to master and the objective is to stimulate your dog, so don't worry if they don't catch on right away.
Buy a dog friendly bubble kit: - These fun kits are sold at most pet stores and are very easy to find online... the bacon flavor will provide endless fun. Most dogs love catching and popping bubbles, it helps to play in a large room to give your dog enough space to run after each and every bubble before they hit the floors or walls.
In conclusion, your dog relies on your love and attention for their wellbeing, so try to use this next lockdown as an opportunity to pamper your pup. After a long, chilly walk, warm their bedding up in the dryer. If you’re leaving the house to run some errands, bring your four-legged friend along for the ride...and do your best to pass by a local pet store and treat them to a new bully stick, antler, or chew. If you live in an apartment and don’t have easy access to an off-leash park, setup a backyard pup playdate with some of your dogs best friends. If you're looking for something fun and productive, give your dog a bath, a good brushing, and watch them zoom around the house to show off! And if you ever need a quick pick-me-up, turn off the TV off and put your phone in another room, lay down on the floor and give your dog unconditional love and attention for 20-minutes, it will definitely be the highlight of your dog's day... and most likely yours too!