Many families are discovering that just as they’re coming out of isolation and lockdown due to the pandemic, their pets are headed into it. Many pets—especially all these new puppies that we’ve had an influx of during the pandemic—have never been alone on their own. When you suddenly go back to work, they’re completely unsure of what’s happened. So here’s my ‘iso’ tips for pets as you return to the world after lockdown.
Puppies can get quite nervous, anxious, scared, and even really bored. For quite a few months now, they’ve always had someone at home to play with them and take them for walks. But it’s really important that we give them some things to do while they’re at home on their own.
My top tip would be look at how you feed them. Puppies love food. But instead of giving them a bowl of food, we want to use food as a way to give them some mental stimulation. There are some really great slow feeder bowls on the market, like The KONG Wobbler. The KONG Wobbler is a plastic container with a small hole in it—the dog pushes it around and a single biscuit can fall out of the hole. Essentially, it makes them work to get their food. It gives them hours of playtime because they’re trying to get their food out.
There’s a really good mat called a snuffle mat, or a distraction mat, which you can make up for your puppy. You can make one yourself with a rubber doormat, the ones with the holes in it. Get some polar fleece strips, and then tie the strips through the rubber holes. You keep doing that until you fill your mat up.
Then you get their treats and stick the little bickies right down the bottom of the mat. The puppy has to use their amazing sense of smell to find their food in this mat. Slow feeder bowls, KONG Wobblers, or a snuffle mat are a really great tool for your puppy.
It’s the same thing with your cat. The cat version of the no-bowl feeding system is a small toy mouse, which has a little hole in the top of them. You put the biscuits in it and leave it for your cat to discover. You hide these around the house and your cat can go hunting for their food. It helps to keep them stimulated during the day.
There are some other new toys out on the market which are like automatic feeders, which you can operate using an app on your phone. The other thing that I would recommend is daily exercise for your dog.
Finally, it’s important that when you do get home from work, or even before you go to work, take your pet for a nice walk so then they’re a little bit sleepy for the rest of the day. It’s always important that we find the time to walk our pets every day.