With pet owners across the country in isolation, Battersea has released some tips and tricks to keep dogs entertained and active – using everyday items like cardboard boxes and blankets.
While people are permitted to leave the house once a day for exercise, there are many dogs who may be used to more physical exercise than one walk a day – so owners need to turn their attention to enrichment in the home.
Nathalie Ingham, Canine Training and Behaviour Manager at Battersea says: “These are definitely challenging times for everyone. Thankfully, there are plenty of activities that you can do indoors with your dog to keep them occupied. Brain games are a great activity and for some dogs will tire them out just as much as a walk would. Mental and physical stimulation are both equally as important so ensure you fit both into your daily routines”.
To keep animals across our three centres entertained, Battersea staff have been getting inventive - dogs and cats are now getting regular story times with staff and enjoying food games and search games in indoor areas. Many of these techniques people can do in their own homes to keep their own dogs entertained.
Nathalie continues: “At Battersea we’re very lucky to have a team of dedicated staff who are continuing to ensure that every one of our animals receive the care and stimulation they need.”
Some examples of brain games that you can do with your dog can be found below, or by visiting Battersea’s website.
Scatter feeding and search games
Instead of using a bowl to feed your dog, try scattering their biscuits over the floor, around the house or in the garden.
Scatter feeding will encourage your dog to use their sense of smell to find their food. As your dog starts to get better at using their nose you can scatter their food over a larger area to make it even more challenging for them.
Once your dog has mastered this, you can start hiding small piles of food for them to find. Pick places you don’t mind them rummaging, and where there’s no danger of anything getting damaged. As they grow in confidence you can make the hiding places harder to find, or even hide the food underneath something like an empty plant pot.
If your dog is finding it too hard to find the food and starts to get frustrated, you can help them by taking them closer to the food or throwing treats near to them.
There are lots of activity feeders available to buy, but you can also make your own from everyday materials you have at home.
A toy that you can quickly make yourself is a destruction box. Simply fill an old cardboard box with scrunched up balls of paper, old toilet rolls, anything that’s safe for your dog to tear up and then scatter their dry food and some of their favourite toys in and around the box.
Whatever you choose, make sure you start off at an easy level (so it’s easy for them to get to the treats) If your dog is finding it too hard to get their food, they might lose interest and give up.
If you’re feeling crafty, you could even make a treat mat – visit Battersea’s YouTube channel for more information.
Sometimes you don’t always have a lot of resources to hand. Instead, take a blanket or a towel, lay it on the floor and sprinkle food all over it.
Pinch the middle of the blanket and twist. Keep twisting until the blanket is in a swirl and the food is buried within the folds. Give to your dog.
The best way people can support Battersea currently is by making a donation to help us continue to be here for every dog and cat. For more information or to support Battersea with a donation, please visit www.donate/battersea.org.uk.