This is a very strange time to be alive. There is a worldwide pandemic and we are being told to “social distance” ourselves from our family and friends. We are being instructed not to leave our homes unless absolutely necessary. Most of us are being told to work from our homes and our favorite restaurants, bars and even our beloved Starbucks are closed unless you want to order in for delivery.
For a society that is highly susceptible to mental health issues such as stress, depression and anxiety, a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic and mandatory social distancing can only escalate these issues especially when we sit at home alone or perhaps only with our spouses and children. Being cooped up can cause additional stress and fighting between spouses due to the constant close quarters and lack of separate time and those with children at home will find they get no breaks especially if you are also trying to work from home.
So how does my dog help this situation and not cause me even more work? Here are a few suggestions:
Cuddle, cuddle & more cuddles
This is a great time to rely on your dog for companionship and cuddles. A little touch increases dopamine and serotonin, both of which help relieve stress and stabilize your mood. Curl up on the couch and watch a movie while snuggling your pup, read a book in bed while your pup lies next to you. Your dog will love this time with you and you will find their energy soothing and reassuring during these complicated times.
Go for long walks
Walking outdoors is allowed during social distancing as long as you keep at least 6 feet away from other people. This will be beneficial to both you and your pup as you will both get fresh air and exercise which will improve mood and again increase serotonin and dopamine. One important thing to remember is to not pet another person’s dog while out on a walk. Even though dogs cannot carry or transmit COVID-19 the person that is petting them can still have the virus on their hands and by petting the dog and touching their fur, this can then leave it on the dog for their owner to pick up.
Working on training
You finally have some spare time to spend training your dog. Maybe they already know their basic commands, and maybe they don’t. Regardless, the possibilities are endless! As we know, training a dog takes time, patience and repetition. So grab some treats and hop online to learn how to teach a dog some new tricks!
Cook homemade dog food & treats!
Now is this time to get your Martha Stewart on… Restaurants are closed so you can cook your heart out and if you don’t know how to cook- you can practice on your dog before you subject any humans to it! Many dog owners believe in making their own homemade dog food. This a great option especially for dogs that have food allergies as you can customize what goes into their food. There are many options and combinations to choose from but you should always include a protein, healthy carbohydrate, healthy fat and some veggies. Homemade treats are also an economical and healthier option for your pup. Ever look at some of the labels on treat bags and see a bunch of words you can’t pronounce? Those are definitely things we don’t want to feed our dogs… only wholesome and natural ingredients are the way to go!
Want to attempt making your own food during the self- isolation period? Here are a couple recipes for you to try:
Easy Crockpot Beef & Rice Stew
· 2.5 pounds ground beef ( if your dog has a beef allergy feel free to use turkey, chicken, lamb ect)
· 1.5 cups uncooked brown rice
· 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
· 1.5 cups chopped butternut squash
· 1.5 cups diced carrots
· ½ cup frozen peas
· 1 tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil
· 4 cups of water
Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low heat for 5 hours. Makes 12- one cup servings.
Apple & Pumpkin Dog Treat Recipe
· 2.5 cups of gluten free flour
· ½ cup of oats
· 1 cup of pure Pumpkin puree
· 1 apple, cored and grated
· ½ cup carrots, peeled and grated
· ½ cup peanut butter
· 1 egg, beaten
· 1/3 cup of coconut oil
· ½ cup of water
· Dash of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients together and once fully mixed use a TBSP measuring spoon to portion out each dog biscuit and press into the pan. Bake 32-37 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Store in an airtight container.