With so many of us spending extended time at home with family and pets, these PRO tips from Certified Professional Dog Trainer Elizabeth Watson will help you find success, manage stress and enjoy your canine during these unprecedented times. Follow the four E tips for working from home with a dog to help you and your canine companion stay on the road to good behavior.
Establish a solid routine
· Consistency is key. This is the foundation of success. Dogs find comfort and security in knowing what to expect. Adopt a daily schedule that you can stick with. Wake up, meal times, exercise and bed time should be at the same time every day. Establishing a solid routine for your dog will prevent stress, stabilize behavior, help manage anxiety, regulate potty breaks, improve sleep and reinforce healthy leadership roles.
· Plan ahead. When we get the green light to head back to the office our companions are going to go from full time coFURker back to full time couch surfer and that may come as a bit of a shock to them. We can help our critters prepare for our eventual daily exit by practicing personal time away from the pack. By taking a few minutes to yourself, even if it is just outside your front door, you help your dog exercise his ability to be alone. Separation anxiety can be a challenging behavior to overcome, prevention is your most powerful tool against it!
· Don’t over indulge. Good advice in general, but especially with our dogs. Avoid packing extra pounds on Fido by premeasuring the treat allowance for the day. Better yet, try feeding a portion of your dog’s daily ration as treats instead.
· Use what you have. While we can’t go hit the dog park or our favorite hiking trail right now, exercise is still a must. Walking, jogging or biking in your neighborhood will set tails to wagging but you can also get creative with your workout buddy. Try tackling a few flights of stairs or a makeshift obstacle course. And a good old game of fetch is always a winner.
· Sharpen up! There has never been a better time to fine tune some of the foundational skills. Master these 5 commands in various settings and levels of distractions and your friends will be wowed by your dog’s isolation transformation.
o Come (recall)
· Stuck inside? No problem. Hide and seek is a great way to pass some time and let your dog use his powerful natural senses. Or create structured play with a tennis ball on a rope or a FLIRT POLE (Think giant cat toy… but for dogs!)
Engage your dog’s brain with Enrichment activities
While staying home may limit your ability to physically exercise your dog, enrichment activities and toys are a great alternative to engage his brain and make the most of your k9 to 5. Just Keep in mind treats should make up about 10% of your dog’s daily intake, and if you can, use your dog’s regular food instead of treats.
· Utilize puzzle feeders and food stuffed toys, like Kongs. Some experts recommend feeding exclusively from enrichment toys during this time of isolation and limited access to exercise. This will keep your dog engaged in a brain-powered problem solving activity that will help reduce some of that energy surplus. Pinterest is chalk full of fancy frozen layered Kong and Pupscicle recipes. And if you are lucky enough to have a back yard, tie that loaded Kong to a tree branch or fence post for a whole new twist on this foraging game.
· Healthy snacks. Dogs don’t have to be limited to kibble. Experiment with…
o Melons, Berries, Apples, Carrots, Peanut butter, Cheese, Banana, Green beans, Cooked chicken, Cooked eggs, Plain Yogurt, Cooked Quinoa
· Feeling creative? Google D.I.Y. dog toys. Check out these fantastic dog toy projects made from common household items like…
o Cupcake pan snuffle puzzle
o Braided tug toys made from upcycled T-shirts
o ‘Whack-a-mole’ All you need is a cardboard box, a carrot and a good sense of humor to make a canine friendly version of this game.
· Quality time. Spend time brushing and grooming your dog or just take a few funny selfies together, a little attention and intention goes a long way.
· Remember dogs feel stress too. Destructive, disruptive or depressive behaviors could be a sign your dog may be experiencing stress or anxiety. Managing your energy is a valuable habit to adopt as a person as well as a pack leader. You are the center of your dog’s world and if you are feeling the pressure, your dog is too. Try meditation, yoga or breathing exercises in the vicinity of your four-legged friend. Your calm, centered energy will impact your dog’s state of mind so everybody wins.
Do your best, be consistent and remember, we will get through this together.
And when all else fails, your Mambe blanket has got you covered.
Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats
· 1 cup whole wheat flour
· 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
· 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce or mashed banana
· 1/4 cup vegetable, chicken or beef stock
· bone shaped cookie cutter
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine flour, peanut butter and apple sauce in a large mixing bowl. Add stock and stir until well-combined. The dough will be thick. Once combined use your hands to press the dough into a ball.
3. Place dough ball on a flat service (with a sprinkle of flour if needed) and roll out evenly with a rolling pin. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into desired shape and place on ungreased baking sheet.
4. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, and store in an airtight container.