Keep them busy with a Kong at feeding time
This is a great idea to use up any leftover food instead of it going to waste. Most dogs are not fussy and mixing different types of food my sound revolting to us, but delicious to your dog. If food supply is short in your house at the moment, use dog food instead. Dog biscuits or canned meat will be fine to use. The Kong will make them work for their food. It will keep them busy and mentally stimulated.
Chopped apples, carrots and bananas can be stuffed into the toy. Peanut butter, yogurt, mash potato and cottage cheese work well too. If your dog does not have a Kong, some rubber balls have small holes which can be large enough to stuff with food. A small crosscut into a tennis ball also works just as well.
I like to give my dogs a whole egg to play with. They push it around the floor and pick it up very gently, only to drop sharply to the floor to collect their smashed prize. Raw eggs are good for them and they can also eat the shell.
Some human food can be extremely toxic to dogs. Here is a list of some human foods you should not give to your dog. If in doubt, leave it out.
- Macadamia nuts
- Corn on the cob
- Artificial sweetener (Xylitol)
- Cooked bones
- Grapes and raisins
- Unbaked dough
Helping out with the chores
Give your dog a job to do. Most dog breeds are working dogs and need a purpose plus mental stimulation. Domestic pet dogs don’t usually need to work for anything. They get food, toys and affection for free! Giving your dog a job to do helps them build confidence, plus, how useful would it be to have your dog help you out around the house? Well, now you have the time to teach them just that! They can help to carry logs in from outside to the fire, carry buckets, help bring the shopping indoors, the list is endless.
Teach your dog new tricks and brush up on their obedience.
If at some point you taught your dog obedience techniques, manners and simple tricks, these can sometimes be forgotten if not regularly reinforced. Now you have the time to brush up on their skills.
Sit, lie down, wait plus a good reliable recall are all important obedience commands.
Speak, turn around, roll over, fetch are fun commands to teach your dog.
Dog massage is a great way to bond with your dog. Dogs can feel stressed and up tight at these strange times too. Muscles around your dog’s neck can become tight from pulling on a lead, tension in their legs from running and jumping around, not to mention some of the peculiar sleeping positions they get into. A simple gentle massage will have them feeling relaxed and will also have a calming effect on you! Incorporate brushing into a massage routine and even ear cleaning and cleaning their teeth.
Rotating their toys
Allow your dog to have just one or two toys a day. Rotate the toys and this will become exciting for them and help relieve the boredom.
Training and playing games with your dog mean you will need a large supply of treats as rewards. I trick my dogs into thinking I have treats by putting dry dog food into a fancy bag. This may not work for all dogs, so maybe you could mix the biscuits into some tuna juice (not tuna in brine, as this contains salts and is not healthy for your dog) or similar, for a few seconds before removing and placing into a small treat bag. Carrots and apples cut into small cubes are a great healthy snack for your dog. Carrots also help prevent some worms in your dog.
Baking treats for your dog can be fun. Be creative, there are lots of recipes on the internet. It’s also good to know exactly what you are feeding your dog.
Treat recipes I use for my dogs
Peanut butter cookies
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- ½ cup of runny honey
- 1 ½ cup of skimmed milk
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup oats
Mix all the ingredients together. Roll out the dough onto a surface sprinkled with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough flat and to the thickness you require. Use a cookie cutter or you can, cut shapes with a knife. Place on a baking tray covered in greaseproof paper and bake for 20 minutes at 160 degrees. Allow to cool on a rack before giving it to your dog.
Bacon pup cakes
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 cup grated cheese
- 1 cup cooked bacon
Mix all the ingredients together. Spoon the mixture in equal amounts into silicon muffin moulds or cupcake tins. However, be sure to grease the tin or use paper cups, as the mixture could stick to the tin during cooking. Only half fill the cups to give plenty of room for the pup cakes to rise. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 160 degrees.