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    • Ask The Expert
    • 27 Mar, 2020

    Enrichment ideas for your cats and dogs

    During these trying times, we are all adjusting to a different pace of life, and so are our pets.

    In the current circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, caring for a pet and making sure that they receive enough mental and physical stimulation can be stressful to think about. But there are several ways that you can enjoy play time and keep your pet’s life enriched, even if you have to stay indoors.

    Our expert animal care teams are doing all they can to keep our animals exercised and mentally stimulated every day, and they have shared with us their tips and ideas for creating some fun and exiting enrichment techniques for your pets that you can do at home.

    It is important to note that there is no evidence that cats and dogs can become ill from the Coronavirus themselves, and it is advised to wash your hands before and after interactions with your pets.

    Enrichment for your canine companion

    Let’s make feeding more fun: You don’t need to use a bowl to feed your dog – there are lots of things you can do to make feeding more fun! You can use items such as Kongs,  puzzle feeders and snuffle matts (some of which you can make yourself!). You can also scatter feed you dog – meaning you scatter the dogs biscuits either on a laminated floor or around the garden for your dog to search and find.

    Games: There are lots of fun games you can play with your dog – such as search games. This can be with your dog’s favourite toy or another member of the family, teaching your dog a ‘find it’ cue. You can also hide small treats around the house, and encourage your dog to find them. This will engage your dog’s sense of smell.

    Let’s got back to basics: With more time your hands, now is a great time to get those basics in place – keep training sessions both short and fun and remember they should be enjoyable for both you and the dog and always end on a positive note. Start with sit, down & stay & move on from there – YouTube can provide you with lots more inspiration! Mental simulation is just as important as physical stimulation to help keep your dog stress free and entertained.

    The garden can be fun:  Create a fun environment for your dog to explore. Plants like lavender, valerian, peppermint and catnip plants can be interesting for them to smell and investigate. Provide a digging pit in an appropriate area in your garden, or have a ball pool for your dog to play in or tunnels to run through. You can also consider other agility equipment that can be set up in your garden and have a go at teaching your dog – there will be lots of videos online that can direct you in this training. As the weather gets warmer, a kiddie paddling pool can provide a lot of fun and entertainment for your dog and help keep them cool.

    Music and olfactory enrichment: Our expert kennels team keep our dogs relaxed and enriched by playing some reggae music and using essential oils, Pet Remedy and/or Adaptil. See if your dog likes to relax to some reggae.

    Enrichment for your feline friend

    Puzzle feeders: Feeding time doesn’t always have to involve a bowl; have you ever used a puzzle feeder? This will naturally increase the physical and mental stimulation your cat will get when it’s time for food! Puzzle feeders allow cats to express their natural hunting behaviours. Don’t worry if you haven’t bought a puzzle feeder – you can make one out of many household objects, like cardboard loo rolls!

    New toys: Now is the purrfect time to upgrade your cat’s treasure chest of toys. You can always buy new toys, but many toys can be made at home too! Encouraging play time with your cat helps to relieve boredom, provides an outlet for their predatory behaviours and provides them with physical exercise.

    Down time: Spend 15-30 minutes each day just hanging out with your cat – be that play or a cuddle session. This will help de-stress your cat and keep them entertained.

    Be careful not to smother: Be mindful not to smother your cat. Until recently, your cat probably had a home all to themselves for most of the day. Let your cat come to you for attention, and don’t be tempted to overfeed them in times like these. Pet Remedy or Feliway can help to bring down any stresses from this change in routine.

     

     

     

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