Beating the Lockdown Blues… 7 things you can do with your dog to keep him happy and healthy
Lockdown is tough. No doubt. We’ve all been there. The closest many of us have come to a holiday in the past 18 months is a trip to the supermarket. It seems the only family member who is happy everyone is at home is the dog. Netflix and couch cuddles are great, but what do you do when you are all chick flick’d out? Here are 7 activity ideas to get you started...
A great way to engage the senses and the brain. Sniffing and foraging for food is naturally calming for dogs and a simple, hands-off enrichment activity. Drop food pieces or treats at random into a snufflemat (The one pictured is Australian-made by Barking Grazy) and let your dog’s sniffer do the rest. You can make your own homemade version by laying out a towel and dropping treats inside as you roll it up. Make sure you remove the towel once the treats are gone to avoid your dog ingesting any of the fibres.
Get baking with your dog! There are plenty of healthy recipes available online using simple ingredients you probably already have at home. Cook up some super healthy meals you can freeze for later and homemade treats that will have him begging for more. Here are a couple of healthy recipes to get you started…
Simple 3 Ingredient Baked Dog Treats
· 1 large ripe banana (or 2 smaller bananas) smashed
· ½ cup natural peanut butter (nothing added)
· 1 ½ cups rolled oats
Pre heat oven at 180 degrees. Pop oats in the blender and pulse into a fine flour (or just use oat flour instead). Combine the peanut butter and banana in a mixing bowl, and then add the oat flour. Press with a fork until well combined. If the dough is too dry add more peanut butter. Roll the dough into a slab around ½ cm thick before cutting into shapes. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Store in an airtight container. This recipe and more can be found at Flora and Vino.
Healthy Homemade Beef Mince
· Beef mince – 400g
· Hempseed Oil - 2TSP (can use hemp seeds also)
· Carlson's Cod Liver Oil 1/2 TSP (or sardines 50g)
· Ginger 1/2 TSP
· Kelp 1/2 TSP
· 1 Egg (save half of the cracked shell)
· Beef Liver 30g (you can skip if you use pet mince from your butcher)
· Broccoli 30g
· Red Bell Pepper 30g
· Spinach 30g
Pop half of the eggshell, the beef liver and vegies in the blender and pulse. Add blended vegies and liver to the remaining ingredients and mix. For the recipe video and more about fresh feeding check out Vet Rodney Habib on YouTube.
Get the kids in on a good old fashioned scavenger hunt. Hide his favourite treats or toys around the house and garden and cheer him on as he finds them. You can also turn the game into hide and seek by having someone hide and reward him with a treat when he finds them.
Let him take you for a walk! Use a long loose lead, and let him follow his nose. Try out different locations where possible to vary the types of scents he will encounter. Allow him to take his time and really enjoy the experience (and of course leave messages if he is a boy!). A powerful way to engage the senses and relieve stress.
Work in some training in short sessions of a few minutes each, then follow with a treat or play time as a reward. If your dog is prone to separation anxiety, use the time at home to start building his confidence. Start by leaving the room for a minute or two at a time and slowly build up to going outside. Leave him a lick mat, Kong or snufflemat loaded with his favourite treats. It’s a good opportunity to test what works for your dog before returning to work and other commitments away from home.
Doggie Spa Day
Have a Mummy and Me (or Dad) spa day! Many pups like to be pampered too! You can start with a warm bath and a good massage, followed by some towel tug-of-war in front of the heater, and his favourite treats or a loaded lick mat as you give him a good brush. If you really want to get fancy, you can try a homemade hair treatment. Many of the same kitchen ingredients that make a nourishing hair mask for you are also great for your dog’s coat. Try ingredients like mashed banana, yoghurt, or honey… put your own treatment in, and let it work it’s magic while you treat your pooch.
Make Some Memories
Pawfect your photography skills while you have some time and a captive audience. You don’t have to own a fancy camera or have a tonne of skill. Just grab your phone or tablet, find some natural light, and start playing. A good beginner trick is to simply keep shooting… get as many frames as you can. Most dogs are never still for very long, so snap lots of pictures while talking to them or holding a treat or toy above the camera to grab their attention. With some practice you will start getting some decent shots… and some pretty amusing outtakes as well!