If you’re anything like me, social distancing is a double-edged sword. On one hand, I miss my job. I’m a teacher, and being away from my kiddos for an indefinite amount of time is heartbreakingly difficult. I miss my friends. I miss shopping. Goodness, I miss shopping so much. Target is basically my favorite hobby, and not being able to wander the aisles aimlessly finding items I didn’t even know I needed is one of the greatest challenges. On the other hand, I just became a stay-at-home dog mom overnight. I get to spend every waking moment with my little family, and that is a true blessing. This difficult time also served as a reminder to slow down, a reminder that many of us, including myself, needed. We are reminded to take time to enjoy the journey, rather than rushing from one destination to the next. I’ve cooked more, cleaned more, read more, snuggled more, and done all of the things I’ve been putting of for “when I have more time.” Now we’re almost two weeks in, and I’m starting to feel the stir craziness settle in. Theo is feeling it, too. He’s not used to us being home with him all the time, and I can’t tell if he loves it or hates it. So, to keep us all sane, we set out on a weekend adventure of fun activities planned to entertain us all, human and dog. If you’re looking for a way to keep yourself and your pooch busy during this crazy season, here are some ideas to try out!
1. Try out a new treat recipe! As you all know by now, I LOVE making homemade treats for Theo, and I am constantly finding new recipes. My Pinterest boards are overflowing with possibilities, and now I finally have a time to give them a whirl. This weekend, we decided to try out Doggy Cinnamon Rolls, which were a crowd pleaser, not only for the smell it filled our house with, but apparently they also tasted pretty good because Theo ate them up real quick! These were an extra special treat, as cinnamon and sugar are ingredients that you should only feed to your dog in moderation, but now seemed like a good time to spoil our boy!
2. Work on some training! Training is a never-ending process, just like learning. With parents around the world “homeschooling” their children, it should be no different for dog parents! Now’s as good a time as ever to refresh your pup’s memory on basic skills they learned long ago, or teach them a fun, new trick! Not only will you enjoy having a well-trained pet, but they will thrive off of the mental stimulation in these seemingly monotonous times.
3. Play a fun game! Games aren’t just for humans, dogs can play too! You can pretty easily teach your dog a game like hide and seek, frisbee, or simon says. This weekend, we decided to try out a new game, though. We call it “the cup game,” but if you can come up with a more creative name, please share it with us! The object of the game is simple: your pup is trying to find and eat a treat. However, there is a little bit of strategy needed to get there. First, you get two cups (make sure they are not glass or see-through). You will then place the cups upside-down on a flat surface. You will place a treat under one of the cups and begin to alternate the cups’ positions, while your dog watches and waits. When you stop moving the cups, you can cue your dog to find the treat by pawing at the correct cup or knocking it over with his nose, that part is up to you. When they choose the correct cup, they can eat the treat.
4. Take a walk! This is always a good idea, quarantine or not, but now this is pretty much your only opportunity to visit the outside world, take advantage of it! Nature is beautiful and being outside is good for the soul, for you and your pup! So maybe take a longer walk than you usually would, explore a new path, or just spend some time outside together (socially distant from others of course)!
5. Make a doggy obstacle course! Theo is used to going to doggy daycare twice a week, but with everything being closed, he needs to burn off some energy. So, we decided to create an obstacle course in our living room. Hey, boredom can really boost your creativity! We placed some long pillows for him to jump over, some dining chairs for him to crawl under, and some plastic cups for him to weave around. We had fun building it, and Theo liked following the path of treats, though he wasn’t a huge fan of all the obstacles in his way, my stubborn little boy!
6. Build a blanket fort! This was by far our favorite activity. Who said blanket forts were just for children? We took this extra time to build the ultimate blanket fort. We gathered nearly all of the pillows and blankets in our house, and used our dining chairs as the base. I even lined the space with string lights to add an extra cozy touch. Then, we all snuggled up to watch a movie! We chose A Dog’s Purpose, and if y’all haven’t already seen that movie, please beware that you WILL cry! Regardless of the tears, this was such a nice way to spend our Saturday night, and we will definitely do this again!
I hope you find some of these ideas useful, and take this time to truly spend quality time with your fur baby! In all seriousness, please stay home, and stay safe and healthy during this time! Thank you to all of the essential employees who are facing this head-on, and to all of those continuing their work from home while also managing home life. Let’s unite (from a distance) and get through this together! My heart is with all of you as we fight this fight with strength and unity.