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Indoor fun and games
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Indoor fun and games

The rain’s pelting down, the wind’s howling and it’s dark at four o’clock. At this time of year, life can be a bit on the dull side for our pets stuck indoors with nothing much to do. It’s time to introduce some indoor games to liven things up a little.

While some games, such as ‘tug of war’ or ‘hide and seek’ are more geared towards canines, there are other activities, such as ‘find the treats’ or ‘indoor agility’ that, with a few adaptations, could also be enjoyed by cats, rabbits, ferrets and rats. Here are some pet game ideas to try out:


Find the treats

This game involves your dog using his amazing sniffing ability to seek out treats you hide around the house. Start by getting your dog to sit and drop some treats around the room where he can see them. Give a cue to ‘find the treats’ and praise them when he picks each one up. Do this until your dog has got the hang of it – then you can start hiding them in more challenging spots such as on a chair or under a rug. After some practice your dog will begin to home in on their natural sniffing abilities, and they’ll start relying on their nose rather than visual cues. Alternatively, you could hide a favourite toy.


Which hand?

This game will really get your pet’s brain buzzing. Grab some treats and ask your dog to sit. Allow your dog to watch as you place a treat in one of your hands Close your hands into a downward facing fist and extend them out to your dog and ask: ‘which hand?’. Once your dog touches the correct hand with their paw or nose, praise them and give them the treat. Some dogs will cotton on to how this game works straight away, while others may need a little more practice.


Tug of war

Most dogs find tug of war games very exciting, so it’s important to set the rules. Encourage your dog to grab the tuggy toy by excitedly saying ‘take it’, and at the same time move the toy towards your dog. When your dog has a good hold of it, shake the toy side to side, up and down and backwards and forwards. During the game, stop tugging by saying ‘leave’, move your hands into your body, keep them still and don’t speak. Your dog may continue tugging but will eventually release the grip. Immediately your dog lets go, pause and then start the game again. Your dog will quickly learn to play when invited and stop when your hands are still and close to your body. To maintain control, occasionally stop and restart the game – only removing the toy entirely when you have finished.


Chase the bubbles

Chasing bubbles is a fun way to keep your dog or cat busy on rainy days – pet stores even stock special pet bubbles in peanut butter and bacon scents. Start by blowing one or two bubbles at a time. If your pet doesn’t show interest in the bubbles at first, try pointing to them. Encourage your pet to ‘catch’ the bubbles while they’re floating around. 


Magic cups

This is a great brain game for dogs that some cats may find intriguing too. Get three cups and some treats. Let your pet watch as you place a treat under one of the cups, then shuffle them around. Encourage your pet to identify the cup with the treat underneath with a paw or nose.


Indoor agility

From dogs to cats, ferrets to rabbits, why not encourage your pets to get some exercise on rainy days with some indoor agility. Use boxes, brooms, towels, cushions, or whatever you’ve got to hand to create your own indoor obstacle course. Start by using a treat as a lure and encourage your pet to jump over, under or weave around the different objects.


Hide and seek

Have your dog sit – you may need to enlist help if your dog won’t stay when you leave the room. Find a hiding spot and then call your dog. Give them lots of praise and a treat when they find you. A simple but effective way of having some fun indoors.


Name that toy

It’s estimated that dogs are capable of learning over 200 words – so why not put that ability to good use by teaching them the names of their toys? Start with one specific toy and use a name for it. Repeat the name while they’re playing with it and they’ll start to pick up on the name you’re using. After practicing with a few different toys, you can then set them a challenge to ‘find Derek the duck’ or ‘red ball’. If they succeed, give them lots of praise. You could even train them to ‘drop it’, while they’re standing over their toy box, teaching them another useful game – ‘put your toys away’!


If you found this interesting, you may also like:

Do dogs and cats get the winter blues?

How to play games with cats of all ages

Bonding with your small pets

Sources: puppyleaks.com, bluecross.org.uk, positively.com

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