Tailor them to suit your furry friend’s energy levels and abilities
You would do anything for your pet! You buy them the most nutritious food. Make sure they have a comfortable bed. You sign up for the best pet health insurance. And rumor has it that if you’re a millennial, you wear them with sweaters and bandanas!
While the things we do for our pets may seem ridiculous or over the top, we have to remember that our homes are our pets’ entire worlds. So, in addition to food, beds and health care, we have to enrich their lives with activities that engage their brains and keep them active. Try these activities with your pets, whether it’s a cat or a dog.
Freeze treats on a licking mat (available for purchase at your pet store). For cats, canned food, tuna juice, and kitten treats are great ingredients, while dogs may prefer canned dog food, peanut butter, and small bites of freeze-dried liver.
Frozen treat takes time to eat, and your pet will spend time licking the mat and enjoying the flavors.
Puzzle toys and games
Pet puzzles are a fun way to encourage your pet to think creatively. You can buy puzzle toys at your local pet store, or you can make some yourself. Puzzle toys include balls or containers that dispense treats; trays with secret compartments that require lifting lids or sliding a lever; or simply a treat under an upside-down glass.
These puzzle games are wonderful for food-motivated furry friends, and because they make them think, they help tire them out – a must if you’re raising a puppy!
Your vaccinated dog (or cat!) enjoys spending time with you, so why not take him for a walk somewhere special? Choose a route you wouldn’t normally take so they can enjoy new smells and sights. Just make sure your pet is well behaved on a leash and don’t approach other pets without their owners’ permission, even if your dog is friendly.
Tricks for treats
Your cat, dog or even rodent friend can learn to do tricks on command. All it takes is a little patience, positive reinforcement, and treats to reward them for doing the right thing.
Once your pet has mastered the “sit” and “lie down” commands, you can teach him to shake or give him a high five. More complicated tricks like spinning, crawling or halfway – where your dog walks between your legs – are great for advanced learners.
Pets learn best with positive and rewarding training methods; ask a certified instructor in your area for tips or check out helpful YouTube videos. If your pet gets really good at performing, you can apply to earn a Trick Dog title through Do More With Your Dog or the American Kennel Club, even if your puppy is not purebred.
Put your pet’s nose to work at dinnertime with a snuffle mat! A snuffle mat is a woven mat with long strands of cloth – usually felt – or layers and pockets in which the kibble is hidden. The dog then sniffs and receives a reward.
Some people feed their pets a snuffle mat to help them slow down the feeding – great for dogs that seem to inhale their dinners. While it is a useful tool for your pet’s health, it also reconnects them with how their wild ancestors may have eaten, looking for food on the forest floor.
hide a treat
For the most passive way to get your cat or dog active and thinking, hide various treats in various places in your home. Once your pet understands that he can find snacks if he looks around a bit, he will be roaming around the house looking in every hiding place he can find.
Just remember where you stashed them all so you don’t run into any surprises later. We recommend using crunchy, solid treats for this activity.
prank with friends
Dogs are pack animals and love to interact with other dogs. If your dog has a few friends he associates with – and behaves with – why not schedule a fun date to play with?
Even just a few hours with a friend can bring your pet joy — and make him exercise more than he normally would. Win-win!
Dock dog, barn hunting, agility, flyball, bait racing and more are fun dog sports your pup can participate in. Find your local canine sports center to learn more about your options and which ones your dog might excel at.
For example, your Labrador retriever might love diving off the docks, while your Jack Russell terrier can’t contain its excitement about attracting bait. Or maybe your border collie is obsessed with flyball!
All of these activities are essentially sporting events, but for dogs, they will keep your pup in great shape while creating a strong bond with you.
Clean up new activities with your vet
Every pet is different, so be sure to ask your pet’s veterinarian about healthy activities your pet can safely participate in. but thrill rides and treat hunting can be perfect.
Your pet will thank you for it, giving it lots of licks and cuddles!