Sail through this tough time with unconditional LOVE

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Dr Ankur Narad
Here’s how to help your dog thrive while both of you are indoors.-by Dr Ankur Narad, Dr Supriya Shukla and Ashu Narad
COVID-19 has changed the lives of pets across the country, especially for dogs and in particular those living in apartments.
Be prepared
Stay home, stay safe. Be prepared with food stock & medicines.
Biggest problem – How to take them for potty?
For times you cannot step outside, the easiest way to teach your pet to potty in your apartment (something you probably spent a long time teaching it not to do) is to act as if you are going outside. To do this, you should prep for how “you would normally for a walk,” including grabbing a leash, bags and treats. Cue to your pet that this is business as usual, even if it’s in a corner of your home instead of down the block.
Walk your pet to the area where you want them to go during a time when you think they need to potty. For most pets this happens in the morning, after exercising, after eating or after a nap. If at first your pet doesn’t go, give yourselves a break and return to another area of your apartment to hang out. Then watch for signs that your pet needs to go to potty and try again.
For cleanliness and to protect the area of the floor of your apartment that you are designating as the potty area, you can use newspapers, commercially available “pee pads” or even fake grass or sod patches, which you can buy online. While having your pet doing potty indoors, it’s important to practice good hygiene yourself when handling any excrement or urine.
Indoor fun time with your furry buddy
Although you might not be able to keep your pet as physically active while under quarantine, you can still keep them mentally active and alert. We advise pet parents to consider getting puzzle toys or treat dispensers to use in the house. You could feed all meals from food toys which would make mealtime more enriching for your pet.
Looking to distract yourself and your pet? Training goes a long way toward stimulating and exercising pets. Save one part of their treats as reward. If your pet is used to a lot of physical activity they can handle physical training like spins, rollovers, sitting pretty or weaving between your legs etc. If you and your pet are struggling, it’s always a good idea to reach out by phone to your vet or dog trainer. You can even make puzzles with items you already have around your home. Two simple puzzles that will entertain your pet and keep them busy are –
• Box Puzzle: If you have been getting a lot of deliveries, you probably have boxes. With your pet in another part of the apartment, arrange empty boxes on the floor and hide treats in some of the boxes. Show your pet the boxes and let him use his nose to find the hidden treats. Re-arrange the boxes with more treats.
• Cupcake Puzzle: Take an empty cupcake baking tray and 12 (or as many as you have) tennis balls. Place treats or pieces of your pet’s kibble into some but not all of the baking tray’s cups, and cover all of the cups with the tennis balls. Show him the tray and see how long it takes for your pet to move the right balls to find the hidden food. Each time you play, change where you place the treats in the baking tray.
Managing stress and anxiety in pets during Quarantine
Like people across the country and around the world whose lives have suddenly been turned upside down by COVID-19, dogs who are stuck in quarantine with their pet parents may experience stress, anxiety, and depression.
There can be uptick in depressive behaviour like trouble sleeping, losing their appetite, not wanting to play or seeming listless. But some dogs might also become more destructive and anxious, exhibiting behaviour like increased reactivity, increased barking or difficulty settling. Increasing enrichment and structured playing inside the home could help. Most of the time, dogs want something to do, and when that’s taken away, they can struggle. The same goes for their human companions. As the unlocking has begun, take preventive measures. Stay home, Stay Safe—and give unconditional love to your pet.
(Dr Ankur Narad and Microbiologist Ashu Narad are from RGCN Pet Clinic, Bhopal, MP; Dr Supriya Shukla (Pathologist) is Professor and HOD of Pathology at Veterinary College, Mhow, MP)

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