In the fast world of today, even our pets are often bored of the monotonous domesticity of indoors life. Dogs are often most affected, as they are naturally active animals that require regular exercise. Keeping domestic animals indoors at all times and not providing them sufficient exercise is a disservice to your furry children.
Regardless of what pet you have, here are some fun activities to try with them to keep them mentally and physically stimulated and happy.
The most obvious solution. If you live in a neighbourhood with a park nearby, take your dog outside to make sure they get their daily dose of exercise. Just walking through your neighbourhood can be a good exercise for both of you. Take different routes everytime so your dog has a chance to experience new places, sights, and smells. You can also take your dog hiking with you and let them explore the great outdoors. Contrary to popular belief, cats can also be leash trained, so make sure to take your feline friends on supervised excursions outside too. It is also the most convenient way to reinvigorate yourself after a long day of work or school.
- Hunting for Food:
Domestic animals can also overeat sometimes if food is simply left for them to eat. Instead, make meals a fun play time for them. Hide some treats in food dispensing toys so they have to work a little for their reward. You can even DIY treat for your dog by coring an apple and stuffing it with your dog’s favourite food. However, it is very important to fully remove the core of the apple as it can be a choking hazard for your dog. Another option is to hide some of their favourite food around a room. This will make them exercise and also keep them entertained.
- Agility Courses
Create obstacle courses for your pet around the room with toys and cardboard boxes. Jumping through hula hoops, over cushions, and around chairs can be a fun and easy way to create an agility course in your home. Lead them through the obstacles and reward them with treats. This engages their problem solving skills and keeps them mentally sharp, as well as physically active.
- Playtime with Toys
Pets usually only require your company. Simply playing with their favourite toys with them or cuddling can be a meaningful activity. Engaging cats with wand toys is a great way to play with them as they stimulate prey like movements and allow them to exercise their hunting instincts. For cats, bouncing a ping pong ball in an empty bathtub is a great way to keep them entertained and active. Once you start the game, they will automatically keep it going until it interests them, but make sure to remove any bath products from their reach and plug the drain to avoid the ball getting stuck there.
A nice game of fetch or Frisbees can also be a good way to bond with your dog. A “flirt pole” – a long pole with a rope attached to the end, with a bait tied to it – is also a great mentally stimulating exercise for pets. Although, be sure to reward them by catching the bait some time to keep them interested in the game.
- Tug of War
A great way to engage your dog, tug of war is a classic way to teach your dog good manners and to bond with them. The basic rule to follow in tug of war is that the game ends the second your dog’s teeth touch your skin. This shows them the rules of the game and keeps them mentally engaged as well.
- Water Games
If you’re not afraid to get a little dirty, spend some quality time with your pet playing around with water. Spread a plastic sheet in a room or in your backyard, and bring out a kiddie pool for your pet to splash around in. Dogs usually love the hose, but a special pool with their own floating toys can be a great way to keep cool in the summers and keep your dog excited.
Both cats and dogs love chasing bubbles. Blow some bubbles and see how your pets react by trying to pop and chase them.
- Puzzle Solving
You can make great puzzles for your little one to enjoy with things that you probably already have lying around the house. A simple one for cats can be: cut some slots around the bottom edge of a plastic container and place some treats in the center. String a rope through the lid of the container and hang it over a doorknob. This puzzle makes for a good activity that keeps your cat busy.
A simple beginner game for dogs can be the Muffin Tray Game: put small treats in a muffin tray and cover them with balls on top. Your dog will then have to figure out how to remove the balls to get to the treats.
- Chasing Scent
Scent games make use of and hone your pet’s natural scent tracking abilities. Dogs love hide and seek, you could play the game all the time and they would not get sick of it. You can be the reward in hide and seek and your dog and come find you, whereby they will be rewarded by kisses and praises. Another game to play with dog can be the Shell Game. This includes hiding a treat under one of two or more plastic cups. Have your dog watch you place the treat under a cup and shuffle them around before telling them to find it. When they eventually sniff out the treat, reward them with praises. After a few tries, they’ll start getting it right on the first try.
For cats, you can also mark a few cloths with some scent that intrigues them and scatter them around the house. Your cat will then explore around the house for hours, delighted by all the interesting scents. It can be a perfume, peanut butter, or even some spices.
And lastly, remember to not over coddle your pets. Learn to read the signs that show you they’re no longer comfortable with the games, and leave them alone when they need some time to themselves to rest.
Keep in mind that it’s important to keep your pets mentally active as well as physically active.
Try some of these activities with your pets and let us know how it goes!
Written by: Aiman Javaid