Tips For Keeping Your Dog Amused During Confinement
One of the biggest issues for owners and their dogs after injury or surgery can be the confinement that’s required to allow the body part to heal.
For most soft or bony tissue injuries or surgeries, there will be a minimum of 8 weeks exercise restriction to allow the tissues time to rest and heal, and not undergo undue stress or strain. If the tissues are not rested adequately there is a risk of the injury or surgery site not healing fully, or even failing – requiring further intervention.
This exercise restriction often means crate or pen rest for your dog. If your dog has never been trained to a crate or small area, this can cause a real problem. The dogs can become distressed, vocalize, try to escape and sometimes cause more harm than good to themselves.
Here are my top 10 tips for keeping your dog occupied during confinement:
- Invest in some food reward toys – toys that are stuffed with strong smelling food, that your dog has to work for – aiming to keep them occupied while confined. You can even feed your dog’s whole meal in several of these if necessary. Some good ones are the Bob-A Lot and Kong Wishbone. But my new favourite is the ‘Snuffle Mat! The Snuffle mat is simply many small pieces of fabric – in the ones we use its polar fleece, tied through holes in a rubber mat. There are instructions easily found on youtube on how to make these, but if you’re like me and don’t have a whole day to buy the supplies, cut the fabric then weave it all through, then buying one is the way to go.We buy ours from ‘Snuffle Mats Australia’. I have seen many around the place and these ones are very tightly packed so the food hides nicely in there. I don’t feed commercial food so I hide dried whitebait or preservative free dried liver in my Snuffle Mat for my boys.
- Make some ice cubes or blocks with healthy (smelly) treats inside such as sardines or liver treats or your pets other favourite snack. They have to work hard to retrieve them and get some fluids at the same time!
- Try a dog puzzle where your dog has to do some brain work to determine how to get a food reward dispensed.
- Place the pen or cage in an active area of the house so your dog can see what’s going on rather than being shut away in the laundry. If possible, move the pen around to different locations to stimulate your dog
- Have a pet sitter come over an spend time with your dog if you cant be there in the day. There are many reputable companies now available and advertising their services online. They can come and sit with your dog, and take them out for toileting or small walks.
- Try some scenting or Nose-work to keep the mind stimulated. You can devise low impact activities to be performed in a small space to fit with your dog’s exercise restrictions but also keep their mind stimulated and reward them with a treat.
- Ask your reliable friends, neighbors or grandparent to take your pet over to their place while you have to go out to relieve boredom – as long as they can still be confined. Your vet may also be able to look after your dog in the daytime if you have to go out.
- Try some calming remedies like a Thundershirt, rescue remedy, or an Adaptil collar, or other homeopathic calming remedies to help calm your dog if they become anxious in confinement. It may be worthwhile enlisting the assistance of a dog behaviorist to help out you and your dog’s particular situation – particularly if confinement has to go on for some time.
- Ask your boss if you can do some work from home, change hours or even take your dog to work! Pets have been shown to increase productivity and satisfaction of employees in the workplace – why not ask the boss?
- For technology buffs: try The Petcube is an awesome new pet camera that allows you to interact, talk and play with your pet while you are away. Their technology includes a two-way audio stream through a built-in microphone and speaker, and a laser pointer for entertainment. To learn more about Petcube, visit their website here. Alternatively you can try the Pet Tutor is a smart wireless training game system for your pet. It gives you the ability to reward your dog for good behavior through the Internet. To learn more about the Pet Tutor, visit their website here.