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Cats like to play

How to keep your pets occupied during the coronavirus lockdown

20.3.2020

Guide for Pet Owners

The current restrictions, such as physical distancing and lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on both humans and animals. Many pets will find their daily routines suddenly changed and their owners at home instead of at work. While this can be an anxious time for everybody it is important to see things positively and use this as an opportunity to do things we might not usually have time for. One of which is spending more time with our pets, for whom this outbreak can also be challenging, especially if they are kept inside for longer periods than usual.

To help make things a little easier we have pulled together some ideas on how to keep your pets occupied. Here are some ideas to keep your pets busy:

Dogs

  • Search Games: Hiding some treats and toys all around the house will create something like a scavenger hunt for your dog. He can use his senses and find these rewards once he finds your hiding spots. Just make sure you only hide small amounts of tasty food, and not too much.
  • Shell game: Place three plastic cups upside-down on the floor and hide a treat under one of the cups. Move the cups around each other while your dog watches the movements. Then see if he can find the cup with his reward.
  • Frozen treats: are another source of fun and entertainment.  You just need to put some food or a treat in an ice-cream container, fill it with water and freeze it. Your pet will have lots of fun waiting for the ice to melt and revealing the delicious surprise for him to enjoy.
  • Chewing: is a natural behaviour for dogs and chews such as Kongs can keep your dog busy for hours, as well as helping to maintain good dog dental hygiene.
  • Teach basic commands: Does he already know the important commands like "sit", "stay", "come"? Now is the time to put in some hours of reward-based training. You can try it with clicker training: More here!
  • Teach names: Give toys names and ask your dog to fetch "teddy", "ball", or "dolly" and put them in a box.
  • Tidying up: Much to the delight of any children who may also be home, train your dog to also put away his toys, preferably in a box.

Cats

  • Agility: Use your do-it-yourself talents to build agility courses for your feline friends. There are lots of suggestions on the internet for courses that lead up the wall to the ceiling and back down again.
  • Fishing games: Turn some string into a kind of fishing rod. Fix a shuttlecock at the end of it and then swing it through the room. Your cat will love chasing it!
  • Clicker training: You can teach your cat a lot with clicker training. Try teaching him a few tricks like "come" and "high five". More here!
  • Ball games: Throwing a bouncy ball against the wall will keep your cat busy for hours trying to catch it.
  • Torch game: use a torch to make a light spot dart around the room and let your cat indulge her passion for ‘hunting’ it.

Small animals

  • Do-it-yourself toys for your pets: You need just a little imagination. The DIY video by FOUR PAWS gives you some ideas. Watch the video here: www.youtu.be/G30II7-Ll0M!
  • Obstacle courses: Build a small and safe obstacle course using a few small boxes of different heights with treats on top of them, so that your pet is kept busy finding the treats.
  • Hide-and-seek: This game works well if the incentive is to find food treats. Just spread a few healthy snacks around the room for your pet to find. Tip: they might need some help at first!
  • Hunt game: Tie a piece of apple to a tight ribbon and pull it across the room to get your pet to ‘hunt’ the fruit.

think positive

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We might all be feeling anxious as our lives are turned upside-down by COVID-19, but it’s the perfect time to remember how much animals enrich our lives, and to start giving them the extra love and attention they deserve.