A NORTH Cumbrian animal charity has provided advice on how best to keep dogs entertained during the coronavirus lockdown.

Oak Tree Animals’ Charity, based in Wetheral just outside Carlisle, provides a home and finds a new home for hundreds of dogs each year.

So it is particularly well-placed to provide expert advice on how best to keep dogs entertained.

Government measures designed to minimise the spread of coronavirus permit one form of exercise per day, meaning those in a household unaffected by coronavirus symptoms can walk their dog - or dogs - once each day.

However anyone experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, including a fever, a dry cough or extreme fatigue - or anyone sharing a household with someone experiencing these symptoms - should not go outside for 14 days.

As such, dog owners may be forced to find ways of keeping their pet entertained indoors for two weeks.

Oak Tree Animals’ Charity suggests that one way of keeping a dog both physically and mentally stimulated is by feeding them using challenges rather than simply placing their meals in a bowl.

“Meal portions can be split up and used randomly throughout the day to give your dog plenty of fun little activities with plenty of rewards,” the charity says.

One example the charity suggests is a Kong dog toy, widely available online, which acts as a puzzle for the dog to solve before they can gain access to food.

Another option the charity suggests is hiding portions of food around the home, and encouraging them to play a “treasure hunt” style game.

Oak Tree also advises that “snuffle mats” are popular ways of keeping dogs entertained.

These are mats with strips of material attached, providing a huge number of hiding places in which to secrete treats. Dogs can then practice their scent-following abilities by investigating the mat, and has been demonstrated to work well as an exercise for calming dogs down.

Snuffle mats are widely available online. Oak Tree’s website also has instructions on how to make one at home.

When the exercise and excitement is done for the day, Oak Tree suggests audiobooks as a way to help calm a dog down.

The charity said: “Studies show that audiobooks are one of the more calming auditory sounds for a dog so sit back, relax and enjoy.

“You could also try reading to your dog, this can be very beneficial for children, especially those just learning to read.

“Keep changing your dog’s daily activities so no two days are the same, this will help reduce anticipation and allow our dogs to focus on the task at hand.”