Exercising your dog when social distancing

by PDSA | 2 April 2020 #Lifestyle

There has been a lot about Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the news and online recently. We all now need to spend more time in our homes away from other people and it can be difficult to know what to do with our four-legged friends.

Everyone has now been advised by the government to practice ‘social distancing’ with some more restrictions having recently been introduced. This means we will all now be spending a lot more time at home. We know that this can be super lonely, but if you’re lucky enough to have a dog at home you won’t be completely alone!


What is social distancing?

In a nutshell, social distancing is exactly what it sounds like – avoiding social interaction between people where possible. The government has loads of recommendations on the steps you can take to do this, so we’d recommend visiting their website for more info.


Indoor exercise for dogs

The good news is, there are lots of things you can do to make sure your dog is still getting all the exercise they need without leaving the house too much.

It’s still important for your dog to be walked if possible and to get outside in the garden a few times a day, but if they have a lot of energy to use up you may want to do some more indoor activities with them so they don’t get bored (and potentially start making mischief elsewhere in your home!).

Good indoor activities for dogs include:

  • Fun games. Most dogs love to play! See if they want to play throughout the day with dog-safe toys. An easy game would be to hide their toys around a room then let them in to find them. You could also do the same under blankets so they have to ‘dig’ to find their favourite toy. Why not treat your pooch to a new toy from our Pet Store? You’ll also be helping poorly pets in need!
  • Puzzles. Giving your dog something to think about can be just as important as letting them run around – and provide good exercise! Puzzle feeders are a great way to keep your dog occupied and using their brain and can be used instead of their usual food bowl. If you’re feeling brave and don’t mind a bit of mess, you could also consider making a destruction box or snuffle mat for your dog*.
  • Training. Training is another great way to keep your dog’s mind sharp. Who said old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Your pooch will love to learn new things, no matter how old. Remember to keep sessions short, use positive reward-based methods and follow our top tips for training your dog.


Getting out with your dog

You can play lots in your garden even if you are social distancing. Your dog will really enjoy getting out with you and running about, or just milling around outside doing their own thing.

At the moment, you're allowed to go on one walk a day, so definitely don’t stop walking your dog! Follow our top tips for walking your dog while social distancing:

  • Try to walk your dog in quieter areas. Avoid built-up places if you can.
  • Keep at least two metres away from other people. This can be difficult, but it’s in everyone’s best interests to keep their distance at the moment so it’s likely other dog walkers will be doing the same.
  • Take lots of poo bags and don’t forget the hand sanitiser (not just to stop the spread of Coronavirus, but also to stop you getting any nasties from your dog’s poop).
  • If your dog doesn’t have great recall, keep them on the lead when you do go out on walks so they’re not tempted to run up to other walkers. It’s also best not to touch other people’s dogs if they come up to you.

As we’re still fairly early in the year, the weather isn’t always going to be great at the moment, so remember to follow our vets’ advice on walking in in colder (wetter) conditions. Remember to make sure your dog’s microchip details are up-to-date and they are wearing a collar and tag out and about. Make sure you take a phone with your vet’s number saved in case of any accidents – it’s particularly important to take care at the moment, as many vet practices may not be able to see non-emergency cases due to the impact coronavirus is having on staffing.


*Snuffle mat: this a great scent puzzle for your dog. You can make one by using a rubber mat with holes in and tying strips of fleece (or another material) through the holes so you have all the tassels on one side. Then scatter treats on for your dog to snuffle and find. These are both great for children to make for the family dog, too. 

Share this article on:  PDSA | 2 April 2020


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