If you’re under the weather you can take a sick day from work, your boss will understand. You can cancel a night on the town and your friends will understand.
When you can cancel a dinner date, your partner will understand. But if you’re feeling too ill to take your dog for his daily walk, he likely won’t understand.
Dogs care about their humans, of course, but they also need daily attention, as well as daily exercise. If they don’t get that daily exercise, they will get restless and some dogs can even become destructive.
So how do you entertain your dog when you’re out of action?
Here are five things you can try.
Hire a dog walker
If you walk your dog, you risk getting sicker. But dogs that don’t get daily walks are more likely to have health and behavioral issues.
Instead of putting your health at risk, use a dog walker to entertain your dog.
That may sound simple, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.
You’re entrusting the care of your dog to someone who likely is a stranger. You don’t know how they treat dogs or even if they’re compatible with your dog.
Start by asking friends, relatives or co-workers for recommendations.
A dog walking service with a website and a social media presence also will provide reviews.
Before using a dog walker, invite that person to meet your dog when you can supervise to ensure they get along.
For this to work when you are ill, you will need to have previously secured a dog walker so you have someone to call when needed.
Also, be aware that some dogs do not react well to dog walkers. Although they need exercise, dogs may see the walker as a threat who is trying to remove them from their own home.
Find a pet sitter
Like hiring a pet walking, finding a pet sitter can’t be a last-minute solution when you become sick.
Sometimes you are too ill to do anything but stay in bed. You can barely care for yourself, let alone care for your dog.
In a situation like this, it would be ideal to shift that responsibility to somebody else. Ideally, you could rely on a friend or a family member, but that’s not always possible.
Everybody has their own schedule and it’s hard for people to work an unexpected situation like this into their routine.
Professional pet-sitting services can help. A pet sitter can come to your home to care for the dog or could take your dog into their own home.
To choose the right dog sitter, ask for references, check to be sure they are licensed and insured, and meet with the sitter with your dog to see how they get along.
Use interactive toys
Interactive toys can entertain your dog with very little participation from you.
There’s a wide variety available with more new toys alway being envisioned and produced.
Some popular options include
- The Dog Tornado, which works to stimulate the dog’s brain by using four layers of rotating discs. You can hide treats in three of the four layers. Then your dog has to use his nose or paws to find them.
- The Ethical Pet Seek-a-Treat Shuffle Bone, this wooden bone-shaped puzzle features 10 holes where you can hide dog treats. Your dog must then move the six sliding disks to find the treats.
- The Trixie Flip Board uses a non-slip rubber rim to keep the game in place while your dog tries to find treats hidden in compartments.
Dogs also enjoy playing fetch. If you’re feeling too ill to toss the ball, you could use an automatic ball launcher.
There are a few good choices out there for ball launchers, to find the best one for your dog, check out this list from dogviously.
Play hide and seek
Bring out your dog’s inner hunter. Rather than use a game or puzzle, hide treats or even some of their food around your house.
This is something that you can do regularly so that your dog is familiar with the idea of there being food hidden around the house.
They’ll never get bored of exploring the house and sniffing around if they think they might happen upon some treats.
It’s basically like a scavenger hunt for your pets. You can just rest while they run around and gather what you’ve left for them.
Try less taxing games
If you are really committed to actually playing with your dog despite being sick, try adapting the games you usually play.
Rather than run around the yard, play fetch from the comfort of your couch or bed. You’ll need to be careful about where you toss the ball and this will only work if your dog returns to you. If chasing your dog to get the ball is part of your usual routine, this won’t work.
Try a laser pointer. Dogs love chasing that little red dot and this game will require minimal energy on your part.
Be smart and you can come up with ways to play with your dog that don’t require you to expend much energy.
Once you feel better, you can resume your normal routine. But keep these options to entertain your dog. They also can be used for bad weather days or times when you get stuck at work.