With the lockdown in its second innings, it has become even more difficult to engage in indoor activities. While humans can find work, chores and entertainment to pass the time, when it comes to pets, it is a difficult task.
If you have a dog who is used to running around in a park or going for walks or even being let out to do his business, the lockdown feels nothing more than punishment for it. There have been reports of behavioural changes in dogs due to the lack of exercise, fresh air and attention from their owners.
We are happy to list a few tips and techniques that could be used to engage a pet in fun activities. It could also turn out to be an entertainment for adults and children while keeping the positive vibes thriving in the house.
1) Treat game
Make your dog watch as you hide treats all around the room. Give him orders to find the treat and watch him run around finding it. Praise and appreciate your dog when they do find the treat each time. When they are done, put them in another room and then hide the treats without letting them watch. Order them to find it again and enjoy them scrambling around to find the treats.
This game not only helps them work their natural skills, it also helps in honing their sniffing out technique that they use during their walks. It will tire them out, bring on a good appetite and make them relaxed and happy. Not to mention, it’s a fun trick that can be made enjoyable along with kids as well.
2) Shell game
The shell game is perfect for both dogs and cats. It is not only enjoyable, but also encourages and hones their problem-solving skills. Take three bowls and some treats. Hide one treat under a bowl while the pet is watching and shuffle the bowls around. Ask them to find the treat and watch them while they work through mental stimulation.
It is a fun game that can work well on cats as well, especially as cats are not as physically demanding in a game as dogs. If you have a cat and a dog, turn it into a competition and watch your kids have an entertaining evening.
3) Teach them cleaning
If your dog has toys and plays with them, you can teach him to pick up his toys after playing. Teaching him such a trick will boost his confidence, work his mental and problem-solving skills and get your place clean.
If your dog already knows the command ‘drop it,’ all you have to do is ask him to pick up one of his toys. Then ask him to ‘drop it’ in his toy box once he is near it. Repeat the technique with consistency until he catches on. Soon, your good boy will be cleaning up after him.
4) Stuffed KONG
This is a superb technique to keep your dog busy and entertained for hours. A KONG is a rubber toy with a hollow space in it. It comes in various shapes and sizes. All you have to do is, stuff various dog treats inside it and let your dog figure it out. It will appeal to his natural ability to chew, lick, tear and scavenge.
You can work with dog treats, frozen minced meat, broth or whatever food your dog prefers and let them go at it for hours together. Most KONGs are made of toxin-free, washable rubber that can withstand the sharp teeth of a dog.
5) Tug of war
An age-old technique to have fun with your pet is the tug of war. Tie a reasonably strong rope into knots at intervals and play tug of war with your dog. Contrary to popular belief, tug of war does not make your dog aggressive or dominant. Research shows that a healthy game of tug of war makes dogs confident in their abilities and obedient to their owners.
Add a few rules to the game to make it fun, like if the dog touches your hand, the game will end or if he gets distracted, there won’t be any treats. Praise and appreciate your dog after each game. This game not only works the mental skills of your dog, but also gives it the physical exercise it misses. It is also the perfect game for indoors.
6) Teach them tricks
With all the time in the world to spend with your furry friends, you can use it to teach them some tricks. It is a myth that cats can’t be taught because with a little effort and a few treats; cats can also be taught to pretend to die, roll over, jump over, stand up and even smile.
It takes determination, a lot of treats, consistency of doing it daily, and a whole of patience to teach tricks to pets. There are a lot of videos available on the Internet which tell you how to go about it. Teaching a trick to the pet can be entertaining and a matter of pride for you and will boost the pet’s mental skills and natural ability. It will also strengthen your bond with your pet.
7) Find toys
If your dog has a lot of toys, a game you can play with it is to find a specific toy. You can order them to ‘find me the fish’ and sit back while they scavenge through all their toys to find the right one. Give them a treat, praise and appreciate them, each time they get the right toy.
This game stimulates their natural ability to scavenge and find, gives them a mental exercise and if the toys are scattered all over the house, it gives them a thorough physical exercise too. If you want to make it more fun, name your pet’s toys and teach them to identify the toy by its name. Command them to fetch Dory the fish and enjoy their scramble as they run around trying to find and fetch.
8) Massage and grooming
There is no better way to mingle and engage with your pet other than a massage and grooming. As you may be taking your dog or cat to a professional for grooming otherwise, this lockdown period is the best time to try your hand at it.
Massage works best to calm and relax your pet, along with relieving stress, increasing blood circulation as well as strengthening your bond with it. Also, if your pet is antsy because of home grooming, it is a good way to make it less anxious. Once you have settled your pet down, take those nail clippers to set to work. Clean their ears, eyes, cut their fur or hair, clean their paws, give them a luxurious bath and wipe them down to dry. It is a good time-consuming activity that will give you a sense of achievement and will give your pet the full attention of his owner.
This is a super fun game to engage your pet in. Get a bubble blower set and blow bubbles for your dog or cat. Ask them to chase and pop the bubbles. Watch them go happy and funny to catch the bubbles.
This game is especially good if you don’t feel like engaging in a physical activity. All you have to do is sit comfortably, blow some bubbles and enjoy the show.
10) Hide and seek
Another classic game that is fun for both humans and dogs. You can ask your dog to sit while you hide anywhere around the house and whistle. He will tear around the house trying to find you. Once he does, give him a treat and repeat the act.
If your dog doesn’t sit still long enough for you to hide, you can ask someone to distract him while you hide. As this game is more fun with more people, you can ask kids as well to join in and have a fun afternoon, hiding, seeking and running around.
The lockdown period is a difficult situation for everyone. But it has been deemed more so for children and pets. However, with a little effort and a whole lot of patience, you can make this period fun, entertaining as well as healthy for your pets, all the while strengthening your bond with it.