Pet parents keep their furry babies occupied at home now

The second wave of the pandemic hit us in many unexpected ways. With stricter restrictions being imposed by the Government now, we are all reeling under the weight of the new normal. In addition to us struggling to deal with the pandemic, our furry babies too are having a hard time adjusting to the new normal. While there are no restrictions on walking your pet, pet parents are wary of stepping out now. Confined at home, pets are restless, uneasy and are often exhibiting aggressive behaviours. Pet parents, trainers and veterinarians tell us about the ways to keep your pet occupied and happy all while being at home.
‘Keep your pet occupied as much as you can’

While it is safer to stay home now, it is becoming increasingly difficult for furry babies to be confined at home at all times. Pets are used to walks or other similar activities. Given the lack of the same now, many dogs and cats have started exhibiting irritable behaviour like chewing on furniture, clothes, scratching their body, biting their paws and other such behaviours as a result of boredom.
Rahul Mehra, a veterinarian, shares, “It is important to keep your pet engaged in some or the other activity throughout the day. Playing with them and giving them your attention can help them stay engaged and happy. If you are unable to devote too much time to your pet, invest in toys that your pets enjoys. You can also get food puzzles which are toys with hidden chambers for treat. Your pet will be able to spend a considerable amount of time looking for the treat in the toy and that will keep him engaged.”

Salomi Gupte, a dog behaviourist and trainer adds, “Play games of fetch, either inside the house or outside on the stairs so that they can get their regular exercise. Also, playing sniffing games like hiding treats and encouraging them to search them, this is a great mental stimulation game. Teach your dog new tricks or make them practice their basic trainings. You can also set up a small agility course in the house using everyday house hold objects.” Salomi goes on to add that it is important to give your pet some space too. “The most important thing to remember during this time is to keep your pet alone for a few hours. Remember, we would all be going back to work and at that time it will be difficult for the pet to adjust and might cause separation anxiety.”

‘Create a cozy corner for them; take them out in the open once in a while’

Taking your dog out on regular walks might not be possible anymore, but you can still find ways to to get your dog to do some light exercises. Pet parent Anisha Shah shares, “I walk my dog either in the lobby or occasionally in the terrace. Pets like open spaces and given the current situation, we have to improvise a little. I try and take my dog out for a walk late in the day for them to able to relive themselves. On days when it’s not possible, my dog relives himself in the corner of the balcony.”

Chaitri Thakkar, a pet parent adds to this, “I have a cat at home and while she doesn’t need to be taken out on walks, she does need her own space. She is not used to having people around at all times, and now that are are always at home, the change makes her anxious. I have made a cozy corner for her in my balcony. It has her bed and her toys and I occasionally give her food there as well. She loves retreating to the corner several times in the day. It’s like her rejuvenation spot.”

‘Take care of your furry baby’s diet’

Given that there is a considerable dip in the amount of physical exercise that your pet does now, it is imperative to keep a check on what they eat.

Rahul explains, “While major dietary changes might do more harm than good, some changes are needed. Since physical activity levels have gone down considerably, reducing the portions of the meal can be helpful. Additionally, reducing the intake of meals that have a lot of carbohydrates is suggested. Keeping your pet hydrated is also essential.”

Things to do keep your pet engaged indoors:

  • Buy them toys that keep them occupied for longer periods of time
  • Invest in a food puzzle, which is essentially a toy with a hidden treat inside
  • Keep changing their food bowl positions
  • Play with them
  • Take them out for walks on the balcony, corridor or on the terrace
  • Interact with them regularly

Keep a check on your pet’s mental health:

Staying indoors for long periods of time can affect your pet’s mental health. They may become distant, aggressive or show other erratic behaviour when confined at home. Sanjana Gupta, a veterinarian, shares, “Your pet’s mental health is linked with yours. If the pet parents seems anxious, the pets too start exhibiting the same behaviour patterns. This, in addition to being confined indoors, can have long lasting effects on their mental well-being. Make sure to interact, talk, cuddle and play with your pets as much as you can. While they are a source of your happiness now, they too depend on you for their happiness. Keep them happy and make them feel loved at all times.”

Train your pet to understand obedience. Dogs should at least understand basic direction like “sit” and “stay.” In an emergency situation these cues could save your pet’s life.

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