Well the move to Newcastle was great, running around to all the beaches and lake walks and dog friendly parks 3 x daily, fabulous… now I need to keep my dogs entertained during lockdown!

Challenge is to fight boredom, restriction, lack of interaction with other pooches, all those great smells and noses and bums to check out (for the dogs), cafes to sit at (for me and the dogs). It may seem like a blessing that Danny is 18 years old, and Cody has a spinal injury and can’t walk… but not really… they are used to being out with me always, at work, at play, loads of interaction… they have never been bored, left at home dogs.

So thankfully I have a big back yard at my new house, that helps a bit, but only if I am there.

Bit of a myth I hear sometimes… ”my dog doesn’t need a walk, he has a big back yard to run around in”… I have confirmed for myself they generally don’t want to stay there if you leave them alone (unless you maybe have 2 active buddies playing, wrestling, then, yes). Dogs don’t usually do their own aerobic workout in the yard, they just wait for you to appear.

Walks, Walks and More Walks…

So, we have done lots of little short walks out the front of the house, that is quite satisfying since they pick up on all the local dogs who’ve passed by. I also leave the dogs at a bit of a distance from me so local people can pat, stop and have a chat… everyone up here is very nervous about covid, half of the people out walking are wearing masks, even though that is not required (or did that law change yesterday?).

Practice Some Dog Stretching Techniques

Cody, being spinally injured, gets a lot more rehab, in his wheels, stretching, balancing… I suspect he doesn’t like any of it but it is something that does good for him, tires him out, he gets treats for motivation… could be worse.

With 18 year old active Danny, I am doing some more “physio” stuff with him, like stretching for food.

Here’s a video where I teach some dog stretching techniques you can practice on your pooch from home.

Training Your Dogs to Hunt For Food

We have also been doing at home scent training… hiding food in the backyard and house so they have to work/play to find it (Cody cant walk so I hold him in standing, his head and nose is very active, pointing and generally wriggling when he scents the food, then we do an assisted walk over to it.

You might try training your dog(s) to hunt for food at home, it’s great mental and physical stimulation. You would start by making it easy, still might need to help them till they get the idea of looking for themselves e.g. put a treat close to them and easily hidden (under a paper, shoe, behind the coffee table leg) help them to find it… you will probably notice they are sniffing all around the treat till they actually locate it

Tip: don’t let them see where you put it, they’re obviously using their eyes. Hide the treat when they are not looking at you… then you might have to guide them to it, if they can’t find it… they sort of have to remember to use their tracking ability.

I remember a vet once said we do dogs a great disservice by putting a bowl of food in front of them because:

  1. It’s generally all gone in a minute, and
  2. If they have to look for it (hunt!), prolongs the experience, hopefully more enjoyable when they find it… or is that anthropomorphising? Dogs I have observed certainly look very pleased with themselves when they have found the prize.

Give Your Dog a Massage

My 2 dogs and 19 year old cat are all a bit more clingy, needy the last few months, weather thats the new house, their ageing, or that circumstances have changed yet again with lockdown… probably all of the above. So clingy is ok, they all get more touch and stroking, massage, affection, that is really important, maybe especially for Danny, who is also blind and deaf, as well as aged… Living with a blind dog might be the next blog article…

Giving your dog a massage can be the best way to give them the affection they need… you can try it yourself, and if you would like some tips here’s a guided dog massage video.