Pets cooped up indoors will really appreciate some extra attention and some stimulating activities to try. Playing games and thinking up new ways to entertain our animal chums is good for us humans too. Here are a few ideas to get your started.
We’re going on a treasure hunt
Play a game of ‘find the treasure’ with your dog, using a favourite toy or some treats to arouse your canine chum’s amazing sniffing ability. Start by getting your dog to sit and drop some treats around the room where he can see them. Give a cue to ‘find it’ and praise him when he picks each one up. Once your dog has got the hang of it, 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.
I capture the cat castle
Create a cat castle activity centre out of cardboard boxes with holes cut out for them to climb in and explore and intriguing cat-nip infused toys to discover. Rig up a fishing rod-style toy from an old garden cane with something floaty tied to the end (such as some old tights). Swish this about to encourage your cat to chase and grab as they pop out to defend their regal hidey-hole.
Jump the broom
From dogs to cats, ferrets to rabbits, why not encourage your pets to get some exercise by creating an indoor agility course? Use boxes, brooms, towels, cushions, or anything you’ve got to hand to build an 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.
Chuck it and chew
Most bunnies like to play and throw toys around, so incorporating hay as part of play activities is a great way to encourage your bunnies to pull, bite and chew at it. A willow ball or cardboard tube filled with hay is ideal for batting about. Try putting a bunch in a sheet of brown paper and tie the ends with a strand of hay to look like a Christmas cracker. Your buns will love chucking this around and then ripping it open to get to the hay inside.
Loo rolls to spare?
The RSPCA has put together 8 simple DIY loo roll games to keep your pets entertained including: A Dog Scent Game, Mouse House, Cat Hunt Game and Rabbit Treat Toy. Find out more here >>
Keep pets busy by placing food devices, such as filled Kongs or food puzzles, in different places around the house so they can ‘forage for food’ instead of just eating it from a bowl. Small pets of all kinds will enjoy seeking out tasty treats scattered in their feeding hay or wrapped up in paper bags.
Pop goes the ferret
Recycling can take on a whole new meaning if you have ferrets. That old cardboard box can become an intriguing den if you cut a couple of wriggle-size holes in it and place something tasty such as some Burgess Ferret Nuggets hidden in an old sock inside it. A tatty, worn out, rather stinky walking boot? It will make a great hidey-hole to pop out of. A cosy jumper that’s past its best? Your ferrets will love tunnelling through the sleeves.
Bat it and catch it
Many cats enjoy batting at light things that move easily across the floor – a scrunched up ball of paper is ideal – but don’t give them anything they can chew up or swallow. If your cat keeps losing their toys beneath the furniture, try putting the ball or toy in a large cardboard box.
Hide and seek
An oldie, but a goodie – this is a game that some dogs will really enjoy, although you might need toenlist help if your tail-wagging pal 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 for simple but effective indoor fun.
Dogs Trust also has some great ideas to try:
Make your canine chum their very own Snuffle Mat
This enrichment toy encourages your dog to sniff and search out hidden treats amongst the mat.
Build a Doggy Den
Has your dog’s bed been looking pretty well lived in recently? Create your furry friend a cosy, comfortable place to sleep.
Teach them some new tricks
There’s a whole range of easy to follow Dog School videos