I don’t know about you, but life with the Border Collie gang has been interesting these last few weeks. I have been spending the better part of my days in front of a computer listening to webinars, joining Zoom meetings, checking emails, and other work. If I look down at the floor in my office there is usually a collection of dog toys that Jonesy or Fiona has brought me in the hopes I will play with them. They don’t get the sign “Mom is working. Do not disturb”. Before getting out of my chair, I have to check for the location of Lindy Lou Who who is usually laying somewhere near my feet. She has come close to getting stepped on! And then there is the ever present ‘ear’ listening to sounds from the other rooms in case adolescent Sweep is up to her shenanigans. Never a dull moment at my house!
So how have I been coping? Like others I will admit adjusting to the COVID life has been hard. I have been spending even more time in front of a computer and it can be exhausting. My dogs have been interesting. Overall I think they like that I am at home pretty much all of the time. Fiona and Sweep believe that every minute of every hour should be play time. If I go towards the kitchen they race to the door as they are certain it is time to go outside to play. Jonesy has become a bit more unsure I think due to the energy of the girls. Lindy’s guarding of me against the others has gotten a bit worse. She is also pitching more of a fit when I leave or go outside without her. Uh oh. Now what?
I have been trying to do things that will provide my energetic breed of dog both mental stimulation and physical exercise. It can’t all be physical exercise as Fiona and Sweep are both 25# of pure muscle and could go nonstop all day! More physical exercise means they just get more fit and I get more tired trying to wear them out. So what to do? For my own benefit, I try to do what a friend has done: have fresh air mornings. This gets me outside on a break from the computer and gives my dogs a chance to burn off some steam in the backyard.
While they are running around, I will work on some training with them. For example, I am working on Sweep’s down when she is highly aroused chasing after Fi. Umm yeah, kind of need a reliable down when herding, which I eventually want to do with her as she is from herding lines. So she is getting some mental stimulation. The others also have to work downs and stays until released. As Jonesy has gotten a bit lazy as he ages, he gets to work sit stays and recalls to a hand touch which he absolutely loves. Then we play some chase me, catch me if you can.
Inside I do a variety of things that are mentally stimulating for the dogs. We work on established behaviors to improve on them, learn new skills such as tricks, work on body awareness and/or conditioning, or I engage them with food toys such as stuffed Kongs, Lick Mats, or a snuffle mat. All things that will help calm my stir crazy dogs. In the evenings now, I will have dogs laying around either in the office with me or in other rooms. Peace and quiet. All is good. For now.