36 21 MAY 2020
Dog days right. Some owners aren’t keen on dog tricks, but they
Your pet’s mental wellbeing needs looking after as much as
your own, especially while we’re at home together all the time
It’s hard for many of us to be cooped up at home so
much. But you’d think one family member who’d
be pleased to have everyone they love around them
24/7 would be your dog. Not necessarily, says canine
behaviourist and dog trainer Tamsin Martin.
“Dogs pick up on atmosphere and they know when
their owners are feeling stressed,” she says. “They will
notice that the usual family routine has changed and
that can upset them. If they’re on their own a lot during
the day, they’re likely to find it unnerving to have you
around them all the time.”
Make sure they have somewhere they know they
can retreat to where they won’t be disturbed for some
peace and quiet away from the to-ings and fro-ings of
the family around the house – even if it’s just their bed.
To distract them and keep them occupied the rest of
the time, find activities that will stimulate your dog’s
brain, says Tamsin. Scent training is useful for this –
something as simple as scattering their dry food out
on the grass in the garden at mealtimes so they have to
search for it. Or turn an old muffin tray upside down and
place dried food around it to turn it into a ‘slow feeder’.
As well as keeping them entertained, it will slow down
their eating, which is better for their digestion.
TRICKS AND TREATS
Taking two plastic beakers and hiding a treat under
one of them, so they have to work out where it is, is a
good brain game too – and activities like this are a great
opportunity to strengthen the bond between you, as
your dog will enjoy trying to please you by getting it
can provide a brain workout and help with physical
fitness. “Teaching them to twist and spin will help relax
the muscles and keep your dog supple, for example,”
says Tamsin. “Stand your dog in front of you with a
treat in one hand. Put the treat on the dog’s nose and
slowly lure the dog round in a circle – the treat is like a
magnet drawing the dog with it. Then reward them by
giving them the treat and repeat in the other direction.”
If you’ve got children, building a small agility course
is a great way to keep them and your dog happy and
occupied. Placing objects in a line and teaching the dog
to weave in and out of them, initially by encouraging
them with a treat in your hand, can be good fun for all
concerned – and why not put all those cardboard boxes
from online deliveries to good use by turning them into
It’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s body
language and to know when they’ve had enough of
games and learning new skills, though. Exaggerated
yawning and licking their lips can be signs that they’re
not happy and if they’re reluctant to join in or start to
wander off, take the hint and leave them be.
When life eventually returns to normal, chances
are you’ll be leaving your dog on their own more often
again and there’s a strong chance some will suffer
separation anxiety, says Tamsin. “Try to make sure
your dog is away from you
for short amounts of time
each day during lockdown,
even if it’s just leaving them
in the house with a chew
while you sit in the garden.
Or take the dog to their bed
and get them to stay there
with a treat while you get on
with things elsewhere.
“If you do find you have
problems later, separation
anxiety is unfortunately not
something that’s likely to
go away on its own, so you
may have to consult a dog
behaviourist to fix it.”
Lily’s Kitchen Classic Dinners
£6.60/6s (selected stores)
Made with fresh meat, veg and
herbs in four different flavours.
£6.30/1.4kg (selected stores)
A complete dry dog food with
lamb (also available with chicken).
Natures Menu Country
Hunter Wild Boar £2/400g
With 80% meat, plus fruit and veg.
Forthglade Chicken & Duck
£1.99/395g (selected stores)
Packed with tasty meat,
chickpeas and pear.
Barking Heads Golden Years
20% off £1.43/300g
(was £1.80, offer ends 2 June)
No artificial colours or flavours.
THE NATURAL WAY
Pack empty toilet roll holders
upright into a shoe box and
sprinkle treats or dried food
into them. Pull one roll partly
out, then let your dog work
out how to get to the food.
For more great games to keep
your dog’s mind active, visit
Keep your dog happy and healthy during lockdown and beyond with top-quality food from Waitrose & Partners