How do you keep your dog entertained during lockdown? – some top tips from Battersea Brands Hatch
With pet owners across the Sevenoaks area in isolation, Battersea has released some tips and tricks to keep dogs entertained and active – using everyday items like cardboard boxes and blankets.
While people are permitted to leave the house once a day for exercise, there are many dogs who may be used to more physical exercise than one walk a day – so owners need to turn their attention to enrichment in the home.
Anna Hemmings, Centre Manager at Battersea Brands Hatch said: “These are definitely challenging times for everyone. Thankfully, there are plenty of activities that you can do indoors, or in your garden, with your dog to keep them occupied. Brain games are a great activity and for some dogs will tire them out just as much as a walk would. Mental and physical stimulation are both equally as important so ensure you fit both into your daily routines.”
To keep animals in the Kent rehoming centre entertained, Battersea staff have been getting inventive – dogs are now enjoying one-on-one picnics with staff and playing food games and search games in their outdoor paddocks. Many of these techniques people can do in their own homes to keep their own dogs entertained.
Anna continues: “At Battersea we’re very lucky to have a team of dedicated staff who are continuing to ensure that every one of our animals receive the care and stimulation they need.”
Some examples of brain games that you can do with your dog can be found below, or by visiting Battersea’s website.
Scatter feeding and search games
Instead of using a bowl to feed your dog, try scattering their biscuits over the floor, around the house or in the garden. Scatter feeding will encourage your dog to use their sense of smell to find their food. As your dog starts to get better at using their nose you can scatter their food over a larger area to make it even more challenging for them.
Once your dog has mastered this, you can start hiding small piles of food for them to find. Pick places you don’t mind them rummaging, and where there’s no danger of anything getting damaged. As they grow in confidence you can make the hiding places harder to find, or even hide the food underneath something like an empty plant pot. If your dog is finding it too hard to find the food and starts to get frustrated, you can help them by taking them closer to the food or throwing treats near to them.
There are lots of activity feeders available to buy, but you can also make your own from everyday materials you have at home.
A toy that you can quickly make yourself is a destruction box. Simply fill an old cardboard box with scrunched up balls of paper, old toilet rolls, anything that’s safe for your dog to tear up and then scatter their dry food and some of their favourite toys in and around the box.
Whatever you choose, make sure you start off at an easy level (so it’s easy for them to get to the treats) If your dog is finding it too hard to get their food, they might lose interest and give up.
If you’re feeling crafty, you could even make a treat mat – visit Battersea’s YouTube channel for more information- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Fo1-Ch5zXc
Sometimes you don’t always have a lot of resources to hand. Instead, take a blanket or a towel, lay it on the floor and sprinkle food all over it. Pinch the middle of the blanket and twist. Keep twisting until the blanket is in a swirl and the food is buried within the folds. Give to your dog.
Henry the lurcher is still waiting for a home
Despite his dapper looks, rescue dog Henry has spent 150 days waiting to find a home at Battersea Brands Hatch. Staff at the Kent centre hoped his handsome appearance might catch someone’s eye but as yet no one has come forward to adopt the young dog.
Two-year-old Henry arrived at Battersea in September 2019 after his owner became too ill to look after him. The Lurcher has now seen over 160 other dogs and cats rehomed to loving new families during his stay but is still waiting for potential adopters to notice him.
Having seen so many other animals find new homes, sensitive Henry has been a little down in the dumps while waiting for a home of his own. And so, the caring kennel staff gave him a pamper session and mini makeover to help him stand out and find a new family.
Last year, Battersea launched its new campaign ‘Rescue Is Our Favourite Breed’ to celebrate animals like Henry. Anna Hemmings, Centre Manager at Battersea Brands Hatch said: “Henry is such a sweet and loving dog. He’d love nothing more than to find a home to call his own. He certainly looked very dapper after his makeover, and we’re hoping it will help him catch someone’s eye.
“Sadly, we think that Henry’s insecurities may be holding him back from finding a home. He struggles with being left alone and can get worried when out and about. He’s looking for owners to see past this and take the time to teach him how to be the best and bravest dog he can be.”
Henry is looking for understanding owners who are ready and willing to put in the time and effort to build his confidence; something that Battersea is able to provide ongoing support with. He would be best suited to a quiet location and would need to be the only dog in the home.
If you’d like to give Henry a new home, or find out more about dog training please visit www.battersea.org.uk. Join the growing community of rescue lovers by using #RescueIsMyFavouriteBreed.
* The best way people can support Battersea currently is by making a donation to help us continue to be here for every dog and cat. For more information or to support Battersea with a donation, please visit www.donate/battersea.org.uk.