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An Op-paw-tunity to Enjoy Your Pets
 An Op-paw-tunity to Enjoy Your Pets (Or Fun Things to do With Your Pet While at Home in Isolation)
By Jasmine Patel
 
Don’t think of it as sheltering in place, (and don’t use the word “shelter” in front of fluffy or Fido!). Consider this time at home a chance to spend more time with your best friend. You may be feeling cooped-up right now, but your pet is undoubtedly enjoying having more time with you. So it’s your op-paw-tunity to enjoy your pets.
 
Take a Walk or Run

While you’re going stir-crazy indoors, your four-legged friend is also going mutts! He needs stimulation for his own well-being. Grab the leash and explore the neighborhood. Check out areas new to both of you. Just make sure to practice social distancing. The exercise will do you both some good.

Explore the Backyard

Your pooch probably knows the backyard like the back of his paw. He’s spent a lot more time out there when you’re too busy for a walk. It’s a great time to make sure your backyard is actually dog-friendly. Check on your plants to make sure there’s nothing that could poison your pets. See if the walkways and shaded areas are comfortable for him. Consider building a pet obstacle course to keep them, and yourself, entertained.

Dog Training

This is the perfect opportunity to engage in dog training. (Forget about trying to train your cat. They purr-furr to train us!). Grab a few dog treats as incentives. You won’t need many. Your pup will be so happy spending time with you, he or she will be eager to please. Start small, with a few sit and stay commands. And in spite of the old adage, you CAN teach an older dog new tricks. You will have to be more patient and take any health problems into consideration.

Play Fetch

It’s tough to say which one of you will enjoy the game more. Use a stick or a ball, and give your dog the exercise they need. Go a step further and hide a treat in one of his toys. Your cat will also be willing to chase a ball with catnip inside. But you may have trouble getting them to bring the toy back to you. The best thing about fetch is you can play indoors and outdoors.
 
Tug-of-War
 
Another indoor and outdoor game. All you need is a piece of rope or cloth, and some time on your hands (something we all have plenty of right now.)
 
Interactive Toys
 
Both dogs and cats enjoy a toy that keeps them stimulated. A puzzle ball will entertain them as they search for food. Your cat will spend hours chasing a rolling ball with a squirrel attached. Have a laser pointer? Move it around the floor and wall and watch fluffy jump up and try to catch it. You’ll find several options online that will keep both of you busy.

Playing and cuddling with your pets will help you get through these dog days of self-isolation. You’ll also notice significant changes in your pet’s behavior. Pets, especially dogs, were bred to have a purpose, whether it’s hunting or companionship. A bored pet will look for ways to keep busy, whether it’s constantly barking or chewing through your carpet. A little playtime is purrfect for both of you.

A former veterinarian’s assistant, Jasmine Patel has parlayed a love of animals into a career of advocating for and writing about her furry friends.