With social restrictions starting to ease, you’re probably feeling a bit less cooped up in general. However, many of us continue to work from home – often with pets by our sides – and some fun home activity ideas might be just the ticket to break up the daily routine. They might also come in handy when the next cold, rainy day rolls around!
By setting aside time for fun, you’ll develop an even deeper bond with your pet.
Pets of all ages need some play time to keep them happy and healthy, and this is especially true for indoor cats. Play helps a pet condition their muscles and joints which supports physical health. It also provides much needed mental stimulation helping to keep their mind sharp.
Pets who are bored tend to make their own ‘fun’ and this might lead to destructive or other undesirable behaviour.
Here’s some fun home activities you can enjoy together:
Great playtime ideas for cats
By stimulating their hunting instinct, your cat will happily swop snooze time for playtime.
• Playful cats adore anything that you can make move, twitch or disappear out of sight!
• Toys with feathers or anything on a string will bring out your cat's natural hunting instincts.
Be sure to let your cat catch their 'prey' now and then, otherwise playtime will lead to a build-up of frustration. This can be an issue particularly with laser style cat toys. To combat this, ensure your play session ends by allowing your cat to hunt and catch an actual, physical toy.
• Other toys a cat will love include catnip mice and sacks, bouncy balls and balls filled with toys.
• Treat dispensing toys are great and can also be used by cats. Be sure to account for this food in your cat's daily ration and let your cat 'play' for their meal.
• Consider cutting a hole in a cardboard box and see how your cat enjoys playing and hiding in it.
• A cardboard tube will give you and your cat endless entertainment, especially if something pops out of the end!
Go on a treasure hunt
Who can resist a hunt for tasty treats? Hide kibble and treats around your house or yard and let your pet use their superior sniffer to find them. Start off with easy to find hiding spots and slowly build-up the complexity as your pet gets the hang of things. Treats with a stronger aroma will be easier to find.
This is a great way to help a timid pet gain confidence or build focus in a pet who finds it hard to concentrate on a task.
Finding the tasty titbit is often reward enough, but if you also give praise, your pet will be even more motivated. You might like to incorporate a timer so that your pet can try to beat their personal bests!
Create a digging pit
Digging is a normal, instinctive behaviour for many breeds of dog. Problems arise when a dog digs in an area we don’t think is suitable but makes perfect sense to them (“Not the rose garden!”)
Help your dog know where they can get their paws dirty by choosing an area of the yard where it’s acceptable to dig. Make this area attractive to your dog by burying treats and toys for them to discover. Use lots of praise and reward when your dog digs in their new pit.
You can also use a portable child’s sand pit, which is great if you’re a bit pushed for space.
If your dog digs elsewhere, encourage them to move to the designated digging pit and reward with treats and praise. You can also make other areas unattractive for your pet by blocking access or fencing the area off (even just temporarily) while your dog gets the hang of things.
Play hide and seek
A favourite for many, is the classic game of hide and seek. It’s also a great way to practice the ‘stay’ and ‘come’ commands.
Tell your dog to ‘stay’ and then go find a hiding place. Once you’re well hidden, call your dog to ‘come’. Wait patiently for your dog to follow their nose all the way to you. Once you’ve been found, let them know they’ve been a very clever dog!
Choose hiding spots with increasing levels of difficulty. This is another great game where you can incorporate a timer which adds a whole new element.
Make some frozen treats
Food motivated pets will love these home-made ‘petsicles’! Spoon out canned food into ice cube trays and freeze. You could also use canned tuna and mix in a blender before freezing.
Alternatively, stuff a Kong toy with yummy treats, seal up with peanut butter and pop in your freezer. Once frozen, you’ve created a boredom buster that will last for hours! These are also great for keeping pets entertained during warmer weather.
Ideas for creating fun at home activities with pets are only limited to your imagination. Be safe, tap into your pet’s instincts and interests and you’ll be on your way to unstoppable fun!