When I first wrote about this subject, we were entering our first lockdown. Now, we are entering our third! While this is no longer unchartered territories, it is still a testing time for many. As we go back into lockdown, many of us will be staying at home with our four legged family too!
While social Distancing may be a dream for some, it is a nightmare for others. To help with the next few weeks, and to help pass the time, I have pulled together our top tips for helping both yours and your dogs mental and physical well being tip top while you are stuck at home.
Please note, while there is no evidence that dogs can transmit coronavirus, if you are self isolating please refer to the the World Health Organisation (WHO) website for guidance on interaction with pets.
Some people will have to work from home, others will have children and other dependants that need their attention so keeping the dog occupied while you carry out those tasks uninterrupted can ease frustration.
If you follow us on Instagram (@collarclubsub) you will know that we regularly post ways to reduce waste using household items. Lots of these ideas incorporate food and mind games that you can use to keep your dog busy. Muffin tin hide and seek, odd sock snuffle tugs, and egg carton slow feeders. Head on over to our previous Blog Post, you can see all of the ideas that we have pulled together.
Another idea you can try is scent training. Scenting requires brain power and sometimes mental stimulation can be just as tiring for dogs as physical exercise. Katie Saywell, leading Dachshund trainer and owner of the The Dogs Code, has written a blog containing 4 scent games that you can try with your dog including some videos on how to set them up. You can find it here!
If you fancy buying some toys, we can recommend a few great small brands who provide long lasting interactive food toys.
Emily's Canine Crew make a variety of pet safe anti-pil fleece enrichment toys that can be used to feed whole meals or used with treats as a mid day game. You can find her whole range on Etsy here! Pictured is the rainbow Sniff and Find mat which is available in two sizes. She also has a range of tug toys and sniff and find balls available.
Got a pooch who is a bit rougher with their toys or a bit of a clever clogs? We love the toys from K9 Connectables which provide a connectable toy that can be adjusted to provide various levels of difficulty. They have internal cavities that can be stuffed with soft fillings and also have a range of grain free treats that fit the bone shaped holes perfectly. We have provided these in our boxes last year and were a hit with most!
Keep in Contact
We live in a time where keeping in contact is incredibly easy with unlimited options. Text, Calls, emails, video calls all available through online providers free of charge.
As a small business owner I have relied on several groups on Facebook, Instagram and other social media for advice, support and sometimes just an ear to bend.
Now social media can be a problem; the constant bombardment of negative information can sometimes feel like a bombardment and is hard to process which really is not great for our mental health. However, hidden between the negativity, there are also some really inspiring happy groups available.
This is applicable to both individuals and small business owners - Check out facebook and see what groups there are that are relevant to you. Search by your business type, industry areas, hobbies and local area. You might even make some face to face friends to meet when this is all over. Here are my recommendations of some super friendly groups for dog lovers below!
Fur and Fables Subscriber Tribers - The gorgeous Kerry from Fur and Fables is working on a new group for shiny happy people to talk about hounds, photography, dog recipes and favourite brands!
IHeartWhippets Groups - Just a lovely place to hang out with ENDLESS images of gorgeous hounds.
If you are a small business owner, speaking to like minded individuals can be really helpful, especially when so many of us are facing a difficult few months as business are inevitably going to be impacted. Here are two of the groups that I can recommend you joining for a happy, constructive space:
Petrepeneur Virtual Office - This small group is a safe space to bounce ideas off other pet businesses, have a laugh, share funny stories & frustrations and basically feel like you are part of a team.
Publicity Tips for Pet Businesses - Run by the lovely Rachel Spencer and her side kick Patch (Pictured) this group is a wonderous resource for learning the ins and out of promoting your business. While face to face interaction needing to be limited, I have seen some amazing diversification from the businesses in here of how they can take their business digital. Have a unique idea of how to run your business digitally? Use this amazing group to help get some publicity for your story.
Nottingham Petworking - This is a local group aimed at people who run pet businesses in close proximity to the midlands. While it's not advisable to go to groups during the outbreak the group offers a great digital space to network with people in the area and make new friends that you can meet with when this is all over!
Send someone a card. We always send cards for occasions but can you imagine the smile on your family member or friends face when they open a card with one of these gorgeous smiley pooches on? You can view the whole Dotty Dog Art range here!
Pick Up a New Hobby...The Dog and I are firm favourites of ours for their natural dog soap (which may I add they made and sold before it was cool...) but did you know they also stock gorgeous natural soaps for humans? (which has become a bit of a rare commodity!) found here. Or, even better, do you fancy making your own soap? Their sister company The Soap Coach offer a variety of distance learning (e-book soon to be published and video tutorials soon to be online!) of how to make your own soap at home! A perfect way to make sure you never run out and make use of some of that extra free time.
The devil makes work for idle thumbs so keep them busy and take up knitting! Knitting is incredibly therapeutic, and can be put to good effect for both you and your hound. This lovely book written by Debbie Humphreys from Redhound for Dogs contains 12 patterns for hounds of all shapes and sizes. I am very close to finishing Frankie's Super Sloppy Joe Jumper for Winston!
Why not pick this up and stock up your stash from a small haberdashery business in the process?
Pick up a podcast. Listening to the live news can be truly overwhelming and is often filled with lots of negativity. Why not find a podcast so that you can listen to what you want to hear instead? We recommend For the Love of Dog, available on Spotify and Anchor. Hosted by dog photographer, Kerry Jordan of Fur & Fables, Listen along to a lighthearted blog discussing photography tips (another hobby idea!) Interviews and questions with inspirational brands, and behind the scenes of a dog photography business.
Another suggestion is to invest some time in learning massage techniques for your dog. Here you can download The Hoof to Tail DIY massage guide for your pooch. Not only does massage help to create a bond between you and your furry friend, but it can be mutually relaxing and a great way to take your mind off this stressful situation.
Stock Up, But Shop Small.
If you've not spent all your pennies on toilet roll...
If you are going to be stuck at home it may as well be comfortable, and you can help some small businesses while you are at it! Here are our top ten small business purchases to help you get through the crisis.
While you are stuck at home it only makes sense for you and your pooch to be comfortable right? (and lets be honest, treating ourselves makes us feel just that liiiitle bit better. The Slumbering hound have an array of gorgeous handmade items, but i recommend their super toasty slumber blankets, handmade using super soft Sherpa fleece on one side and 100% cotton canvas spot fabric on the other. If your lucky, your hound might let you share!
Other little luxuries that we recommend are the gorgeous leather house collars from the Velveteen hound. I mean, if you are house bound, why not look stylish while you do it? The made to order collars are available in a variety of colours with either a matching or contrasting inner.
Looking for something a little luxurious? We have just the thing. During this time lots of us are either working from home, or having to remain in with the kids, and lets be honest, a lot of that time is going to be spent on the sofa! Why not bring a bit of spring into the home and purchase something practical with this bright and stylish sofa topper from the Lounging Hound. Designed from luxurious velvets and wools, with a microsuede reverse and a super-soft filling, they are waterproof, washable, stain-resistant, scratch-resistant and anti-slip.
Need treats? Well we have got you covered. Not only do our boxes include a tasty selection of natural treats and chews, they will also include a toy! This months box (Our Easter special!) Has an enrichment toy that your dog can use to keep themselves busy.
You can customise the frequencies of your deliveries as we offer a monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly schedule.
You can also customise the boxes to exclude any plush toys or any allergens that your dog might have.
Sign up to our mailing list now and you will receive a code for 25% off your first box.
Click here to join the pack now!
Exercising at Home
Exercising at home with the dog can be a daunting task. While some dogs may survive without a daily walk (Winston despite being a Collie is perhaps an exception to his breed and definitely in this category!) but some dogs need daily exercise. At time of writing, there are currently there are no restrictions on walking the dog, but in light of the current advice, try to stick to isolated places. I have been getting up half an hour early to avoid as many people as possible. While lonely, it's nice to get some fresh air and it really helps to calm the nerves and reset my mood.
In addition to the mental exercises we have listed above, why not try something a bit more out there like dog yoga? This Blog written by Rachel at the Paw Post interviews Fiona Riggs and tells you all you need to know about doing Yoga with your dog!
If your not quite ready to share your yoga mat, there are more traditional activities that can be done at home and in the garden while you are observing social distancing. Why not set up an agility course? Using old fence posts, cricket wickets etc you an easily set up a weave in the garden with limited space. Or if your dog is more athletic you can try setting up some jumps! (Just make sure not to put them too high at first and if they are fixed ensure they are made of soft materials to prevent any injuries!)
Other indoor ideas are hide and seek (you can practise those waits while you are at it!) or a good old game of fetch with a soft ball are perfect ways to burn off some excess energy.
Do Your Bit Where You Can
We have also mentioned that shopping small will be an invaluable boost to small businesses during this time, however if you need to use a bigger retailer, did you know that when you shop online you can use a websites that provide cashback donations to charities free of charge?
We use Easy Fundraising and support our chosen charity Candy Cane through here when we make online purchases. If you would like to try the website, you can use our referral link which will give a £5 donation if you raise £5 for your own cause in the first year of sign up.
We hope that these tips will provide some useful ideas for you during this time. If you have any ideas, please let us know in the comments below!