Three dogs enjoying time in the garden during lockdown

Lockdown entertainment

Even during Coronavirus Lockdown our dogs need play and exercise. Thankfully the restrictions are slowly lifting. In this post we share some of the activities we used to ensure our Happy Hounds did not get bored and ensured they got the mental and physical exercise they needed.

The weather has been great which has made things a lot easier as all of our dogs love being outside. But the sunny weather has often been too hot for the dogs. On these days the exercise outside was kept short and limited to shady areas. Often it included water play, either with the paddling pool or sprinklers.

A blond cockapoo enjoying a drink from the garden sprinkler
Our dogs love a fun refreshing drink straight from the sprinkler

Mental stimulation for dogs is equally as important as physical exercise and helps to promote a calm relaxed dog. We used short games or tricks to keep them occupied, playing them several times a day.

Go Round

Both Benji and Mabel know the command “Go Round”, having been taught it at the fantastic Janet’s Puppy Skool in Swindon. This command tells them to start from your side, walk around an item and come back to you, with the promise of treats and praise on their return. Despite being able to perform this trick, Mabel had become somewhat lazy with it, and Benji simply refused to do it. This provided us with a great starting place to begin some training.

Starting from scratch we reminded Mabel how to complete the task and over time she remembered how to do it. Benji took us all by surprise and took to the task immediately, clearly enjoying completing the challenge. With the initial challenge complete it was time to stretch his abilities. We made the “Go Round’ items different and progressively smaller. Eventually he was able to “Go Round” a small Lego figure placed on the patio from a good distance.

Challenge time again – could he “Go Round” a person sat on the floor, or Mabel doing “Paws Up’ on a footstool? The answer was yes. Benji is the master of “Go Round“ and thoroughly enjoyed the challenges we set him.

Two dogs demonstrating their tricks
Benji is the master of ‘Go Round’, demonstrating how he can go round Mabel doing Paws Up

Ball games

Ruby-Lou isn’t really a tricks kind of girl and is completely happy if she has her ball and someone to throw it for her. We were very careful with the amount of time we spent throwing the ball for her to ensure she didn’t get too hot. Using her ball we incorporated some tricks which she happily engaged with. The only reward she needed was the ball itself.

Ruby-Lou does a great “down” on command and her “fetch and drop” of the ball is amazing. We found some old cones and taught her to place the ball in a cone then go into the down position. It took a little time, but she cracked it and as long as she got the reward of the ball being thrown or rolled for her to bring back she was happy. She’s an easily pleased dog.

A red cocker-spaniel playing a ball game, returning the ball and dropping it into a cone
Teaching Ruby-Lou to return and drop the ball into a cone slows the game down and encourages calm

We also used some empty cardboard boxes to put the ball in. She then had to work out how to retrieve the ball and return it to us. This activity helped to slow the ball game down; making it more controlled and less excitable meaning Ruby-Lou didn’t get too hot.

Get in the box

I have already mentioned cardboard boxes. These had so many uses during Lockdown. They were used to scatter food inside and one at a time the dogs would have to sniff the food out and find it. Did you know that 10 minutes of sniffing for food is the equivalent of one hours exercise?

The boxes were then used as boundaries. We taught the dogs to get into a box, and sit and stay until they were given the release command. We started with the biggest boxes we had to hand. Amazon boxes are ideal!. Before moving on we ensured the dogs were happy to get inside the boxes. This posed no problem for them. Even Ruby-Lou joined in, mainly due to the fact she could smell the high value treats we were using for the game! Once they were comfortable with the bigger boxes we played the same game using smaller boxes.

DIY agility course

Finally, we created a small agility course around the garden, using jumps, a tunnel, platforms and boxes. We used the agility course on the days when it wasn’t too hot for running or jumping. Ruby-Lou decided this was best left to the youngsters which Benji and Mabel were more than happy with. Together and individually they enjoyed completing the course. Again, more training was given at the same time, whilst one completed the course the other would sit and wait on a boundary for their turn.

Blond cockapoo jumping through a hoop, whilst a black cockapoo takes the easy option and goes around the side
Benji demonstrating how he loves to jump through hoops whilst Mabel takes the easy option

What did you do during lockdown to keep your Happy Hound entertained and healthy? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

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