Are you trying to work from home but are constantly being interrupted by a wet nose on your leg or a paw on your arm? We are all spending a lot more time at home lately and our dogs are probably a bit confused as to why you are around so much more, but are not spending all of your time with them. Older dogs particularly may be confused by this change in routine. Here are a number of vet approved ideas to entertain and stimulate your older dog.
Games to Wear Your Older Dog Out
Some older dogs are still full of energy. Playing a game that uses up a lot of your dog’s energy is a great way to ensure they will soon be needing a nice long nap. Before you start your working or video meeting, play a vigorous game of tug of war with your dog’s favorite chew or rope toy.
If you are lucky enough to have your own pool, or you live close to the beach and are allowed to visit, swimming is a great exercise that will quickly wear your dog out. Stair sprints (inside your home or nearby if you are allowed outside) or even just running around your yard are almost guaranteed to have your dog snoring in no time.
For games that require a little less physical exertion from you, nothing beats throwing the ball or the Frisbee. Just ask any dog!
Puzzle toys are a great option for the older dog who has a little bit less energy than when she was younger. There are so many different types of toys that you can buy or make to entertain your dog. Some of the simplest but most popular older dog toys are the Kong toys, which are a heavy duty rubber toy with a hole in the middle where you can insert treats or even dog-friendly peanut butter (just make sure it is xylitol-free).
More complex puzzle toys require your dog to move parts of the toy around to reveal the treats hidden in the various compartments. You can make your own interactive puzzle toy at home using a muffin or cupcake tray, some treats and some tennis balls. Hide some of your dogs favorite treats in the cups of a muffin or cupcake tray and place the tennis balls on top to conceal the treats. Your dog can smell the treats and has to work out that they need to move the tennis balls in order to get to the tasty treats.
Snuffle mats and treat dispensing bottles are two more great puzzle toys you can make at home for your dog. To make a snuffle mat, you can use old pieces of fabric and tie them to a rubber door mat or piece of cardboard that has lots of holes in it. Each piece of fabric should be around 10-15cm long and when they are all tied to the mat close together and treats are placed in the mat, your dog needs to use that super sensitive nose of theirs to sniff out the treats amongst the fabric.
To make a treat dispensing bottle toy, use a clean plastic bottle such as a soft drink bottle and cut a few small holes on the bottle that are just big enough to let a treat fall through. Pop some treats in and the lid back on and your dog will quickly work out that to get the treats out, they need to roll the bottle along the ground. If the treats don’t fall out of the hole easily enough, you can adjust the size of the holes until you get it right. If you have a few more tools and spare pieces of timber lying around the home or you can make a trip to your local hardware store, you can make a slightly fancier treat dispenser like this one pictured below.
Hide and Seek Treats
Dog’s have such a strong sense of smell even as they get older. Put that to good use by hiding your dogs favorite treats or toys around the house and then let their nose lead them straight to their reward. Depending on how well you hide the toys or treats, this could keep your dog entertained for hours!
Cook Up Some Delicious Distractions
If it isn’t too cold where you are, making up a big ice block full of treats or even your dog’s favorite plastic toys will have them licking away for hours until they have freed every last toy or treat from the ice block.