Training classes? Canceled.
Agility trials? Canceled.
Dog and cat shows? Canceled.
Right now, we all have the stay-at-home blues, including our pets, who may not be getting as much activity as they’re used to.
They also might be just a little weirded out that their humans are spending so much more time at home. They can probably feel the stress rolling off us, and it’s likely stressing them, too.
That’s why we’ve come up with some fun ways that you and your animals can stay sane, have fun and get some exercise.
1. OK, this is obvious, but it’s a good one: Take your dog for a walk. Instead of crowded parks and popular paths, seek large, open areas where it’s easy to maintain a 6-foot distance from others, or go at off-hours to decrease the likelihood of getting too close to other people.
2. Have a treadmill? Teach your dog to use it. That’s what many of the top show dogs do for exercise. The American Kennel Club has an article and video on how to get started. Check it out at bit.ly/2QHBVPO.
3. Set up a virtual rally, nosework or obedience “trial” at home. Have a family member record it and share on social media with friends in the sport. Get others to do it and have someone be a judge.
4. Teach your dog or cat some tricks. Janiss Garza shares tips on trick-training cats in “3 Easy Tricks to Teach Your Cat” on FearFreeHappyHomes.com. Dog trainer Kyra Sundance has YouTube videos on teaching your dog to spin, shake, bow and more.
5. Does your pet need to get the zoomies out, but you don’t have a yard or can’t make it to another outdoor area? Toss a ball down the hall for her to chase and fetch. Or blow bubbles in the living room.
6. Puzzle toys for dogs and cats exercise their brains and reward them for activity. If you don’t have one, just stuff a Kong or other hollow toy with peanut butter, aerosol cheese, kibble or treats to keep your pet busy.
7. It’s spring. Let your dog help you plant your garden.
8. Got a new puppy? You can still socialize it, just at a distance. Expose your puppy to the sight of other people, animals and objects such as fire hydrants and trash cans, sounds of cars and buses, and different surfaces such as grass, asphalt and gravel.
9. What about you? You can learn something new about pet behavior. You can find lots of short, free educational videos on body language, behavior, training and care at FearFreeHappyHomes.com.
10. Take a Coursera class on dog emotion and cognition from canine cognition researcher Brian Hare, at Duke University.
11. Discover a new fantasy or sci-fi book series with great animal characters or characters who commune with animals. Favorites with memorable animals (and humans) include Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles with Oberon the Irish wolfhound; Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files with Mouse the Temple Dog and Mister the cat; Damien Dibben’s “Tomorrow,” a tale of an immortal dog in search of his human; David Weber’s Honor Harrington books (with treecats!); Tad Williams’ “Tailchaser’s Song” with Fritti; and Connie Willis’ “To Say Nothing of the Dog” with Princess Arjumand the cat and Cyril the bulldog.
12. Pop some popcorn (go easy on the butter and salt if you’re sharing with your pets) and have a movie marathon. There are so many to choose from. We recommend: “The Adventures of Milo and Otis,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” “Air Bud,” “The Aristocats,” “A Street Cat Named Bob,” “Babe,” “Balto,” “Benji,” “Best in Show,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “Lassie,” and “My Dog Tulip.”