Staying Busy while Staying Home

These past few weeks have gotten all of us thinking of ways to keep busy and stay motivated.  The NEADS Training Department has put together some handy tips on ways by which you can keep your Service or Assistance Dog active and engaged.

  • Go for a car ride! You don’t have to get out anywhere, but simply going for a ride is a change of scenery for everyone and maintains your dog’s car riding skills too.
  • Make sure you are giving the dog the proper amount of daily “aerobic” exercise – at least 30 minutes of playing “get it” or playing with another dog. Remember NEADS’ strict no off leash policy!  Please keep the dog safe while exercising!
    • Break the 30 minutes up into smaller sessions.
    • If the weather is bad, play in a clean garage, basement, use a long hallway, or throw a toy up/down the stairs. Use toys that are soft and don’t bounce since you are inside.
  • Provide proper chewing enrichment for the dog – durable nylabones, empty clean marrow bones, and deer/elk/moose antlers. One small “chip” size rawhide is approved by NEADS daily if you would like to do that.
  • You may typically feed your dog out of a standard food bowl. You can purchase a maze/interactive/slow feeder bowl to provide some mental stimulation for the dog while eating and have it take them a little longer to eat.
    • Taking a smaller bowl and inverting in the large bowl or cleaning off a few big rocks (big enough so they can’t swallow them) does the same thing – makes the dog work around the obstacle to get the kibble.
  • Snack Kongs – you can take the KONG provided to you in training and make a “snack” for them.
    • Make sure any food being put in is from their daily allotment.
    • Options to put in:
      • 1 teaspoon peanut butter
      • ¼ cup kibble from their daily ration softened with water and the ¼ cup fruits/veggies they can get each day
      • A tablespoon of non-fat plain yogurt with the ¼ cup fruits and veggies
    • Put it in the fridge or freezer to harden and then give it to them. If your dog has never had one before, start with the fridge first then move onto the freezer so it will be easier to start and they can figure out how to get the food out.
  • If you’ve gotten out of practice brushing your dog daily, now is a great time to get back on track. Set aside 5-10 minutes every day to brush your dog and then brush their teeth too.  It’s shedding season so it’s definitely needed now!  If you’re already doing it, fantastic – keep up the good work!