Is walking your dog still an option during the coronavirus lockdown?
Certainly it is, provided you are in good health. Exercise is actually recommended as a way to keep you less vulnerable to infection, and doing it outdoors is as good a way as any. If you have a large backyard or outdoor areas empty of other people, you will not even have to worry about picking up the bug!
The scientific community is still out on the precise transmission of coronavirus across species, but consensus is that the only way you can get the disease is from another person. However, while you most probably cannot get the virus from your pet, research shows that your pet might be able to get it from you or other pets. To be on the safe side, avoid any contact with other people when with your pet.
Keep in mind the new normal: social distancing, avoidance of areas with lots of people, wearing of facemasks when in public places, and thorough washing of hands (and your pet’s paws) when you get home. If that sounds like a lot of work, you might want to look at other options for keeping your pets healthy during COVID than walking them outside your home.
Pets love a challenge as much as people, and the prospect of something tasty at the end of one just makes it more interesting. Hide treats around the house for your pets to find, and make them work for it by making them hard to reach. Suspend them from string, or make a DIY puzzle to hide them in. We recommend this last one if your pet has some type of disability.
Another option is to play hide-and-seek with your pet. Get creative with your hiding places and try to stifle your giggles to keep your pet guessing.
Cat tip: Get your lazy cat going with a laser pointer. They might turn their nose up at treats, but they CANNOT resist chasing that little red dot on the wall and floor!
Tricks and Treats
Treats are good for more than hunting trips, though. You can use them to get your pets to jump through hoops for you, literally. Teach your dog or cat tricks to while away the hours. This keeps you both active as well as entertained.
Teaching them tricks also makes them more disciplined and more likely to pay attention when you call them. That itself is a neat trick if you have a cat!
Note that you will need some type of clicker to teach your pet new tricks. If you don’t have one, you can easily make your own clicker.
Creating a maze can challenge your pets physically and mentally. Use boxes, water bottles, cans, small furniture, and string to make a path for your pets to navigate, and place treats along the way to spice up the experience. Reward them with a tickle and cuddle when they complete the maze. Make sure to upload the video to share with other pet owners and inspire them to do the same.
The Great Chase
You might not be able to do this with a cat, but dogs love to play fetch. If you are lucky enough to have a large backyard, toss a ball or stick outside. If you don’t have a backyard or the weather is keeping you indoors, use the hallway or stairs to challenge your dog.
Another option is to have your dog chase you, or you chase your dog. In either case, it should keep you well exercised.
The Dog Park Challenge
If you live in an area that has a large dog park, you might be able to take your pets out for an airing as long as you are careful. Try to keep your time in there to 15 minutes and avoid contact with other pets and their owners. Definitely avoid catching or throwing anyone else’s frisbee or ball!
The best way to limit contact is to go at odd hours when most people are not around. You should also avoid touching smooth surfaces such as railings and benches as experts believe the virus tends to stay longer on them.
Keep your pet outside the home until you have had a chance to wipe him or her coat and paws thoroughly. Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you get inside.
Pets, particularly dogs, need regular activity and exercise to stay healthy. Just because COVID is around doesn’t mean they can get it. Use these tips to keep you and your pet moving during these uncertain times. You might find that it makes the bond between you even stronger.